10 Strategies for Handling Separation Anxiety
1. You can minimize the child’s separation anxiety by maintaining a consistent routine in which the child’s anticipates the separation and the reconnection.
2. Always tell your child before separating in order to minimize the child’s fear that you may separate at any time. This way the child can rely on you being there until the anticipated separation.
3. Attempt to minimize separations.
4. Maintain consistent caregivers in order to allow the child to build an attachment to those who care for the child.
5. Ensure the caregiver knows the needs and preferences of the child. For example, you can share with the caregiver a song that you and the child like to sing together so the caregiver can do this with the child.
6. Provide the child with tangible objects that remind them of you so they can hold it when they miss you. It often helps to leave the child a photo of both of you.
7. Emphasize that you will always return to be with the child. Reassure the child before each separation.
8. Tell the child what you will do together when you reunite in order to give the child something to look forward to as well as a reminder that you will return shortly.
9. Once you reunite, tell the child how happy you are to see them again. Discuss the separation and how you returned.
10. Expect the child to show symptoms of anxiety through many forms such as a short temper and waking up through the night. Reassure the child that you are there for them.
In order for a child to be diagnosed clinically with separation anxiety they must meet three of the eight following symptoms:
(1) recurrent and excessive distress upon separation, or anticipation of separation, from home or major attachment figures; (2) persistent and excessive worry about losing, or about possible harm coming to, major attachment figures; (3) persistent and excessive worry that some event – such as getting lost or being kidnapped – will lead to being separated from a major attachment figure; (4) persistent reluctance or refusal to go to school or other places due to a fear of separation; (5) persistent and excessive fearfulness or reluctance to be alone, or without major attachment figures at home or in other settings; (6) persistent reluctance or refusal to go to sleep without a major attachment figure present, or to sleep away from home; (7) recurrent nightmares about being separated from major attachment figures; and (8) repeated complaints of physical symptoms (e.g., headaches, nausea) when separation from major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated. (Mychailyszyn, 2012)
Although it is age-appropriate for a toddler to have some distress when separating from a primary caregiver, separation anxiety “involves age-inappropriate, excessive, disabling anxiety about being away from home or from those individuals to whom the child is attached” (Scarpa, 2012). Professionals discuss how “separation anxiety is typical in toddlerhood, and so this disorder may be difficult to distinguish from anxiety that is developmentally normal,” it can usually only be distinguished by intensity of anxiety and length of time the anxiety lasts (Scarpa, 2012).
Lieberman, Alicia F. (1995). The Emotional Life of the Toddler. Free Press, Simon & Schuster, New York, New York.
Mychailyszyn, M.P., & Treadwell, K. (2012). Separation anxiety. Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, 396-402.
Scarpa, A., & Wilson, L. (2012) Childhood mental disorders. Encyclopedia of Human Behavior,467-475.
I think we’ve all heard the complaints of a SAHM (stay at home mom), but like most things, you really don’t get it until you’ve done it.
I, like a lot of women, romanticized the idea of being a SAHM. The freedom to make your days how you want, getting to stay in sweat pants all day if you want, and the yogurt commercial-worthy bonding moments with your little ones. How could it not be awesome? Well as you know if you are a SAHM, that’s just not reality. The thing is, it’s not really about WHAT YOU WANT anymore when you become a parent. Your day doesn’t go how you want because now you have a small human, who probably doesn’t get empathy or emotional regulation yet, that also has a say in how your days go. A very big say because it’s their life too. Not only do you have this new erratic human influencing your day, but you also have to somehow adult. You have to take this little human to run the errands, to fill out the paperwork, and usually to the bathroom with you as well.
Being a SAHM is not something to romanticize. It is hard, constant, exhausting work. It’s very beautiful though. I’m pretty sure I get a few yogurt commercial-worthy bonding moments in every week, but that’s really not what this article is about.
I tried being a stay-at-home mom for eight weeks. I like the stay-at-home part. Not too crazy about the mom aspect. -Ali Wong
This article is about a call to support women and let them vent, complain, say their truth, without the very belittling “well that’s the choice you made.” Yes it is my choice, and I’m so thankful and grateful to have been able to make that choice, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have hard days. We all have hard days. And that’s okay.
Finding balance as a mother means accepting your imperfections. -Mary Organizes
Be clear with yourself and partner about the kind of parent you want to be. Wire down your goals and self-expectations as a parent and post them somewhere you will see regularly. This will help you not get caught up in the stress and emotions of daily life and to focus more on what you want your parenting experience to be.
Addressing emotions rather than behaviors allows you to get to the root of why a child is behaving a certain way. Instead of trying to fix anything simply support them in feeling their emotions and expressing them in healthy ways. For example, instead of having a child go to time out for yelling you can say “it sounds like you’re feeling really frustrated right now. I understand it’s Friday when mommy stops you, but we aren’t going to yell.” Give them time to feel what they need to in safe ways. For example if a child tries to hit you can say “I see you’re mad. It’s okay to be mad but we can’t hit. You can stomp your feet or talk to me about how you feel.”
Choose something you will both enjoy that requires little instruction (at least to start). The goal is to bond and connect, so choose something with the least amount of opportunity to create frustration and disagreements.
Share with your child regularly that you love them. If they feel positive attention easily, they are less likely to try to get your attention with negative behaviors.
It is also helpful to communicate when you are proud or happy with a child’s behavior. “I’m proud of you when you use calm words to ask for what you need.” This a great way to build your relationship as well as to express to your child what behaviors you do want from them.
As communicating what behaviors you are proud of helps encourage good behavior and positive communication, giving clear expectations sets children up to succeed.
This one is probably the hardest to put in action. It can be very difficult to not criticize a child for unwanted behaviors since we want to be clear we don’t like the behavior, but in order to limit stress and support positive behaviors, it is important we focus on giving the child clear expectations.
For example instead of after the fact saying “No, mommy doesn’t like when you color on the couch, that’s messy,” you can say “mommy needs you to color only on paper so we can keep the couch clean.” It takes practice, but once you get the hang of it you and you child will feel less stressed!
Toddlers love to stay busy. They are taking in so much about the world around them and constantly learning more. As moms (or other caregivers), we are always trying to support this growth as well as keep the toddler who wants be busy, busy in a productive way. As a teacher and a mother, I decided to share my top 5 favorite activities for toddlers that require little or no set up, don’t create a lot of waste, and actually keep your toddler engaged.
Research has found basic, non-electronic toys are the best to support cognitive growth and learning as they encourage children to use their imagination and problem solve.
Any outdoor space has abundant activities for little ones. One of my daughter’s favorite activities is nature collection. I provide her with a small bag or basket and she freely collects little items she’s interested in. Her favorites are stones, sticks, and fallen leaves.
My favorite activities are activities that can turn into extended projects as research has shown children stay more engaged and learn more from child-lead, project-based learning. Some examples would be sorting the items together after collection, using the items for an art project, or reading a book about Autumn after looking at collected fallen leaves.
Painting is one of my daughter’s favorite activities we do indoors. It gives her a lot of room for creativity and artistic expression. We paint paper on a canvas, used cardboard boxes, nature items (i.e. Stones and leaves), and dishes.
For a mess free activity, use water on dark colored paper or boxes. You can let the paper dry and use it again!
Along with water painting, you can use ANY water activity to keep your toddler entertained. A few ideas: a sprinkler, a small water bin with scoops, washing babies or cars, and
Who needs TV when you can just watch bugs! Although you need to make sure your toddler is ready for this activity and can gently engage with some of the understanding bugs are living as well, this activity requires no setup and is endlessly entertaining and sparks endless curiosity. Bug watching is a great activity for attempting to start project based learning or unschooling as it sparks questions and interest in different topics.
To start, just flip a rock and show your toddler there is lots of life under rocks! This could go a myriad of directions from creating shoe box “habitats” to note taking, to learning the science of different types of bugs.
Cardboard boxes have endless uses. It is probably the best toy to provide a toddler. You can color, cut, move, or make believe with a box. My little loves to decorate them as houses for her babies or play “cave” with her stuffed animals.
Parenting is hard. Yes, there are ways it can be easier and times it can be easier and people who say it’s easy (are we really buying that story?), but can we just all agree parenting is hard. If you attachment parent I am pretty sure you’ve already heard “you’re just making it harder on yourself” or some other variation of that. First off, not cool. No one wants to hear criticisms on their parenting ESPECIALLY when you are just trying to do what feels right and what you feel is best for your baby. Yet, I don’t think this will be changing anytime soon. An argument can be made that attachment parenting makes parenting harder, and basically everyone (who doesn’t attachment parent) wants to make that argument, but it doesn’t have to. If you go about it with a few things in mind, attachment parenting can actually make parenting easier. Ya that’s right, EASIER.
If you haven’t heard of it or are just starting to learn your options as a new or expecting mom, attachment parenting is basically an approach to parenting that aims to support your baby’s attachment to you (and possibly other caregivers) as well as meeting baby’s needs promptly.
This all-natural style instructs parents to be in tune with their child’s needs . . . Attachment parents . . . respond to an infant’s demands immediately and respectfully.
As an attachment parent myself, as well as a parenting coach, I decided to share my tips on making attachment parenting easy!
Stick to what feels right. Do not let people push you around or guilt you into thinking you are doing the wrong thing for you little one. As long as you love and are connected to your little, your gut will know what’s right for them. Mom instincts are real and you should trust them.
It is great and a part of attachment parenting to be responsive and available to your little one. I have found a lot of parents get confused on how to both be attached and responsive but also promote confidence and independence in your child. The key is to maintain your responsiveness but encourage them to problem solve and engage with the world on their own with you as their safe base. Contrary to common belief, attachment parenting actually promotes indepence as children feel safe to explore when they have a secure attachment.
Friendships and like minded individuals are more necessary than ever, especially if you are a stay at home parent. It is important to connect with others who share your view on parenting because attachment parenting is not a mainstream form of parenting, so you may feel criticized or like you are going against the grain often. Having mamas with these similar experiences allows you to share your real experience of motherhood without feeling judged and also connect on a deeper level.
I have always been bad at self care. I love being productive and doing things for others, so it has never been my strong suit, but becoming a mom has made me realize how important self care is. I now practice self care more than ever because it truly makes me a better mom.
Self care can look any way you want it to, but make sure you are taking time for yourself. As an attachment parent, we put our child’s needs first, but don’t forget your child needs a calm and collected parent as well. Also, practicing self care will be a great life long example to your child on how to care for themselves.
My self care includes solo coffee shop time or with a close friend, bubble baths, going on a run or hitting the gym. Part of attachment parenting is having a small circle of care for your child so if you do not have a present partner try to find a family member or occasional nanny who is supportive of attachment parenting and can step in occasionally so you can get some time for yourself as well. Although we exclusively breastfed, we made solo mom time possible by dad being close by at a park or on a walk so we could still feed on demand when needed.
Find resources for attachment parenting. Stick to resources for parenting that you know will be kind and friendly to your parenting style. As an attachment parent, you can’t pick up any random parenting book and expect it to work for you, in fact a lot of parenting books make suggestions contrary to current research and attachment style parenting. Ask experienced attachment parents or find groups on Facebook. I also love these resources!
“Whatever you want to do, if you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it.”Maya Angelou
I am not sure why this does not go without saying, but please, keep your hands off my baby. This little human is new here, she doesn’t know you have germs, or really, who you even are. She spent nearly ten months in my body, where I could protect her, and I might just lose it if you touch her. I am new to motherhood, and we are busy trying to figure out this thing that is parenting and how to protect this little baby in this world. Please don’t make it harder for me. I already have thousands of anxieties running through my head. Please don’t make me panic about whether or not that sniffle noise you just made was just allergies or if my baby could be in the hospital next week.
I know she is cute. I know you love little baby toes and fingers and faces. You are welcome to say hi. From a distance. It was already so hard to leave the house. Figuring out what to bring, how I will feed her, if she’ll be happy or cry at all the newness. Please don’t add to all this chaos that you probably can’t see.
If i am not handing her to you, don’t reach for her. If I didn’t say for you to touch her or even get close, please give us space. Admire from a distance. She is a human too, even if you swear up and down you have no germs and you washed your hands, she has a right to space as well. A right to know the people touching her.
I am so happy you like my baby. I am so happy you are offering kindness and compassion, but please offer in other ways. You may not hold my baby. You may not touch my baby. What may be a small cold for you could mean the end of the line for her.
Ease my worried mama mind. Take a few steps back. Offer kindness, admire us in our state of newness, but please give us our space to figure it all out.
I remember when I was the perfect mom, you know before I had kids. It is so easy to say what kind of mom you will be before you have kids, but the truth is you have no idea and, honestly, it really hurts our experience as a mother when we have unrealistic expectations. Having unrealistic expectations brews resentment, disappointment, and self hate, while we could just being living in the truth of motherhood, the dirty, difficult, but absolutely beautiful in it’s own right, motherhood. I wrote this to share my experience as well as hopefully prepare future mamas for the reality that is motherhood so they don’t experience the unfortunate shift in reality a lot of us go through.
I think the most important point that we often do not consider before becoming mothers is that we cannot control who are child is. You can do everything the way you think is perfect, but each child has their own personality, tendencies, ways of doing things, and own struggles. We forget that babies and toddlers are just little humans with their own personalities and ways of seeing the world. Regardless of what you do and how you parent, you may have a very “difficult” baby or you may have a very “easy” go with the flow baby. This is their personality (or temperament) and we don’t really have a say in it.
Along with their own different personalities comes different ways of dealing with things. While it helps to be knowledgeable about child development and behavior management, some kids are going to have tantrums. Some children have sensory processing disorders and get overwhelmed. Most toddlers will develop separation anxiety and stranger anxiety and to a certain extent this is completely normal. You can’t parent to prevent this. You can however parent to be supportive and consistent parent, but that’s another conversation.
The other thing is the expectation that we will be super moms before we ever even become a parent. I think this creates terrible disappointment and mom burnout. Parenting is EXHAUSTING. It is the most mentally exhausting thing I have ever done, and I taught a room full of toddler for five years. Parenting is different. It is constant. There really is no break, even if someone gives you a break, you think of your child pretty much constantly. Becoming a mom changes everything. Do not expect to be the same productive person who does it all when you become a parent. Actually, don’t expect to be the same person at all. Your child will be your biggest teacher in life and you absolutely will change and that is okay, embrace it. While you eventually will get into your own groove as a parent, there is a huge adjustment. I thought I was going to be able to build my business, keep the house spotless, take care of my young crazy dogs, maintain a healthy marriage and build my business. Oh boy was I wrong. It took me about eighteen months to really settle into myself as a mother and figure out exactly how to be myself and a mother as well as a part of society and that is also okay. We don’t have to figure anything out right away and I just wish someone would have told me that.
Mothers Supporting Mothers
We all know the saying if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all, but what about if you have something nice to say? I feel we live in a compliment and support deficient society. Some may have the opposite view and think we compliment too much and complimenting is a new thing we’re doing that is “ruining our children,” but I disagree. While, I don’t think it is very healthy to fill your children with false praise (hello confused little narcissists), I do think women, especially mothers, have to start complementing each other more. One time someone told me I was a cool mom (how basic right?!), but it truly made me feel validated in motherhood. I thought “oh my god, I’m not coming off as a complete disaster?” It truly made me feel like a better mother, which in turn REALLY MAKES ME A BETTER MOTHER.
What would we look like as mothers if we had more shared and supported pride in our roles as mothers?! What compliment would change your view on this messy life of motherhood? Who would’ve known I just needed to hear that I seemed like a cool mom. If you have something kind to say that you truly mean, just say it. You really may be validating a new mom and giving her that extra little boost of confidence she needs to really own her new role of motherhood. Look, I know all the arguments, and sure we should be secure in ourselves and find our own path of self validation, but, please, let’s be real. Motherhood is rough territory to really feel sure of yourself, especially in the age of perfect insta moms and the never ending stream of parenting do’s and don’t’s. If you have something nice to say, please, just say it.
In the current design of western society, mothering is something that happens in a home secluded from society with just the mother and children. I truly believe this is not what mothering is suppose to be or should be. We need connection with other humans, especially other women. We need to feel connected and valuable within society and no matter how much we love our children, they alone cannot provide that. However, if we begin to shift motherhood to something we experience with other women with the support of other women, mommy burnout, feelings of worthlessness, and a the loss of sanity will mostly float away. So let’s be the change and forget the norm and really just start connecting with each other. Spread the love, we all could use it.
Have you heard the term “Crunchy Mom?” It seems to be a growing label and group among modern mamas. I myself would consider myself a crunchy mama (as you may have guessed by looking at my website). I want to provide a base definition of a crunchy mom as well as look at the discussion around the label in order to help mamas find their tribe, find their own niche as a mama, and also gain more understanding of mamas you may not totally get or agree with.
A “crunchy mom” is a woman on a quest for more information. A mom who is environmentally, health, and socially conscious.CrunchyMoms.com
CrunchyMoms.com defined a crunchy mom as a conscious parent and I found this very fitting. I think those who would consider themselves crunchy mamas aim to be just that, a more conscious parent; in all or most areas of parenting.
Crunchy moms are modern mothers who are more natural minded and explore alternative paths and approaches to parenting.
As I see it, Crunchy mom is a modern term to refer to more natural minded mamas who tend to do their own research and explore alternative paths and approaches of parenting. I’ve heard quite a variation of definitions of a crunchy mom, including some I would consider insulting, but I would never consider the title of crunchy mom as an insult because even if one does not agree with the approach, we must respect mamas who are just trying to do their best and care for their babies the way they think works best for them.
As the definition of crunchy mamas varies, I know my definition may be much broader than some, but I think it is important to be as inclusive as possible and to include any mamas who are even interested in learning about the crunchy mama ways, as I think that is what the crunchy mama tribe is all about; sharing education, approaches, and support so we can all be our own best version of a mother.