Last year I thought I was so lucky. Many of my friends that had little ones Nick’s age had to deal with major separation anxiety around this time last year. They couldn’t even go to the bathroom without their little ones having melt downs. Nick on the other hand was so happy to just play. Sure he wanted to be with me, but he didn’t freak out if I left his sight. I thought that I had it so good. Well, you know what they say about pay backs….
This year is a whole different story. Nick not only has separation anxiety, he has major separation anxiety. He’s still OK if I disappear from his sight in the house, but when I leave for work he becomes hysterical. This is no cry for a minute and then get over it and move on. This is his hanging on me and sobbing as if his life will be over when I walk out the door. Not too long ago Jason was sitting on the floor with Nick and he had to physically hold him back (with some effort too) to keep Nick from crawling over to me as I walked out the door. It was so sad! Nick has even gotten to the point that he acts out some when he sees me in my work clothes because he know it means I’m leaving. At least he has gotten better about me getting home. He used to start bawling once he noticed I was back. It was as if he was overwhelmed by his emotions over the fact that I had actually returned to him.
Nick’s separation anxiety is especially hard to deal with because he doesn’t have it just with me. He gets upset when Daddy leaves (although he doesn’t get too upset over that if I’m home with him). In fact when my grandparents come to watch Nick (when Jason and I both work) Nick sometimes starts crying when they arrive because he know it means Daddy is leaving (I’m always already gone by then). He also will get terribly upset when Nana leaves.
I keep telling myself that this is only a phase (although it could be a long phase). I read not too long ago that you should never sneak out without saying goodbye because that can actually make the anxiety worse, so I always make sure to say goodbye to Nick, even if I know it will upset him. I need to work on saying it and just going though. I don’t continuously return to him when he starts crying, but sometimes I think I take to long to go. They say that you need to have a set leaving routine and that you need to say goodbye and then leave. Sometimes I think that dealing with separation anxiety is almost worse than sleep training!
Not surprisingly Nick has a very hard time being left at daycare. Of course you couldn’t expect that one to be a smooth transition when he’s not happy when I leave him with Daddy! He’s going to be going more in the coming months, so maybe going there, and maturing some as he gets older, will help him get past this phase. Is it terrible though that I dread daycare days because I hate leaving him when he’s so upset? Is there anything worse than seeing your child cry and knowing that you are indirectly responsible for it? I mean I know I need to go to work, and I know that leaving him with other people can be a good thing, but I don’t like it when I have to leave him reaching for me with tears streaming down his face. I am so ready for this stage to be over! Of course before I know it he’ll be telling me to go and I’ll be missing the times when he cried because I was leaving him.
Do you have any tips on how to make separation anxiety easier? We need all the help we can get!