Five year old Sweet Pea has been going to Kindergarten Camp for three weeks and still has not gotten over his separation anxiety. The first several days was very excited to go to camp so I thought ‘finally he’s over this.’ However, today he was still clinging to me and screaming when I left. This is really stressful for this mom, although I try very hard not to show it, especially to him.
I thought I would share some resources that I have found in the past to deal with separation anxiety. Some things I’ve read and put into practice have worked, some have made great sense, others not so much. Remember your child is an individual and won’t always respond like every other child, so some of this information might not be helpful, but hopefully some will!
On my initial search for seperation anxiety, the highest ranking result was WebMD:
Separation anxiety is normal in very young children (those between 8 and 14 months old). Kids often go through a phase when they are “clingy” and afraid of unfamiliar people and places. When this fear occurs in a child over age 6 years, is excessive, and lasts longer than four weeks, the child may have separation anxiety disorder.
The article goes on to talk about seperation anxiety disorder, but it doesn’t sound quite like what Sweet Pea is experiencing, so I searched on.
Parents.com was another resource that popped up high on the search list and mentioned several things I’ve always been doing, such as…
Try saying things like, “I know you might be upset and that’s okay. But you’re also going to have fun,” “I know you want Mommy to stay, but I have to go now,” or “You’re going to go to school today. You’ll have art and music, and then I’ll see you later.”
These statements seem to try to validate the child’s feelings or simply state the facts about what will happen while you are away, as well as reassure the child. In my case, these help the first few times Sweet Pea is dropped off somewhere (other than Nana’s or with someone else he’s very fond of) but then, like magic, he’s scared to let go of my hand or leg again.
I even checked to see what iVillage has to say on the topic. One thing that stuck out of their list of 19 Ways to Ease Your Child’s Fears was this statement, an idea which we have subscribed to since our kids were born…“Sticking to a flexible routine helps your child deal with frustration because she knows what to expect…”For us this was just something we’ve done in our general lives as it greatly reduced (now) seven year old Cutie Pie’s stress before he could talk. I’ll talk about this more tomorrow.
I know my little boy is only five. He’s little still. And I don’t know many 18 year olds who still hold onto their mommy’s hands for dear life when being dropped off at school, so I know there is an end to this.
It is just a phase that is taking longer for Sweet Pea than for some other children. And I also know it’s hard to experience as a mom, and that if we’re experiencing this, some others are, too.
Check out these few resources if you also find yourself with a child who doesn’t want to leave you. If you have any stories or suggestions for those of us in this phase of a child’s life, please share!