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Thread: Gentle response to separation anxiety

  1. #1

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    Default Gentle response to separation anxiety

    Hi All!



    Hannah is now at the age where she is experiencing good ol' separation anxiety. I know that this is a normal developmental stage, but I am finding it really hard to deal with at the moment.

    Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore my little girl, and most of the time there is nowhere I'd rather be than sitting on the floor playing with her, giving her my undivided attention, but being at home with her alone all day, there are times when I just have to leave the room for a couple of minutes (to go to the loo, put on the washing etc. etc.). She is just beside herself when I'm out of her sight, even for a few seconds. She even gets upset if I'm sitting in the same room as her doing something else (she will crawl over, stand up on whatever piece of furniture is closest to me, and scream and throw her arms up at me until I either pick her up and cuddle her, or stop what I'm doing and sit down with her to play). I try to do the things I need to do when she's sleeping, but that doesn't give me much time to get things done 'cos she's not the best daytime sleeper (it's rare for her to get more than 45m - 1hr sleep at a time). Most of the time I make sure I am within her sight, but even then when I'm too far away from her (in her opinion) she cracks it. She's too young to reason with, but her frustration and fears are very real to her. I want to respond gently, but I also want to maintain my own sanity!

    How do I find a balance between the things I need to do, and helping her to feel secure and loved? I've never been good at listening to her cry, even for a couple of minutes... it breaks my heart! I want to meet her needs in the most gentle way possible, but this is kinda driving me nuts!

    I guess I do know some of the answers, I'm probably just posting for some reassurance that "this too, will pass" and that I'm not "creating a monster" like my MIL would have me believe (for picking her up and comforting her whenever she cries).

    I'd be interested in some of the ways others have coped with this stage, and helped their babies feel secure, while maintaining mum's own sanity!

    Um...dare I ask how long this stage is likely to last????!!!

  2. #2

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    Matilda hasn't struggled with separation anxiety to the level of some babies, but since we've been in America on holidays I am not allowed to put her down for hours.

    My resolution has been to take her into a room by ourselves & lay down & chat or read a book and do physical bonding as well, touching, massage. I find that if I give her 30 minutes of undivided attention, she is ready to go downstairs & even go for a walk with my Mum which is huge.

    So I have decided that if when we get home the same thing happens, I will do the same, go into a room where attention can be focused on her & me bonding and that is it. If after 30 minutes we leave & she still isn't ready I may try & put a DVD on and sit on the lounge with her to have quiet relaxed time together.

    HTH!

  3. #3

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    Nov 2003
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    I'm interested in hearing some gentle solutions too as Kynan is starting to experience this I think.

    I have him in the hug a bub a lot but it's not always possible to do this. This morning I was doing some cooking so obviously couldn't have Kynan near the stove so he happily sat in his rocker & played with some toys at the other end of the kitchen. If I need to leave him for a few minutes, like if I'm going to the loo or to put a dirty nappy in the laundry etc, then I tell him where I'm going & that I'll be back very soon. I give him something to play with whilst I'm gone and if he starts to get upset I keep talking to him when I'm out of the room, tell him what I'm doing, so he knows that I'm still there and haven't disappeared completely. He can still get hysterical very quickly even then but I figure if I keep gently explaining things to him like that then hopefully it won't take too long for him to figure out that Mummy hasn't gone away forever. I also hide behind the curtains on his activity gym thingo and play peek a boo with him which seems to help a little.

    I've also read that getting bub to leave you, rather than you leave them, can help get them used to being away from you (eg. get DH to take bub for a walk... wave goodbye as they leave & then talk about all the exciting things they did/saw when they get back).

    Good luck!!

  4. #4
    Melinda Guest

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    Jacob went through a fairly long stage of separation anxiety. It wasn't easy - I'm not going to lie to you! In fact, it was very stressful, demanding, and damn hard work!

    It does pass. It does get better. As the old saying goes - it won't happen overnight, but it will happen!

    Things I found that helped a bit sometimes (but not a lot, and a great deal of emphasis on the 'sometimes'!) were to try and turn things into a game....e.g. peek-a-boo so that he knew that if I disappeared, I was coming back IYKWIM? I'd also talk to him no matter where I was so that he could hear me. I'd also make a point of trying to encourage him to come with me, or providing suitable toys in the other room I was going to etc etc. But above all, I always made sure I explained what was going on.

    Basically, I found that giving him the cuddles and reassurance that he needed was what I had to do. Sometimes it wasn't always possible (let's face it I wasn't going to pick him up and cuddle him when I was on the loo ROFL) but basically, I did what he needed. I figured he was telling me that he was anxious and scared and needed me. If I felt like that and thought that the one person in the whole wide world who I trusted and loved above all others, was leaving me for good, then I'd want cuddles and reassurance too. I felt like all I did was carry him around for months on end and that whenever I wasn't holding him, he was crying. Dinner time I think was the worst - trying to prepare dinner with a screaming child lying over your feet is no fun Not fun for me and certainly not fun for Jacob - it was hard for both of us.

    But one thing I can say is that I firmly believe that by giving him the cuddles whenever he needed them has made him more confident in himself. He knows that Mummy and Daddy are here whenever he needs them. He knows that he can also go off and explore of his own accord, knowing he can return for a cuddle or a bit of reassurance whenever he likes or if he gets scared or unsure of himself.

    So although I know that's probably not given you a great deal of help, I want you to know that it does pass. It's hard to be holding them all the time, but I think that the rewards are endless. I can only speak from my own experience of course and I can honestly say that I really believe Jacob has more confidence in himself and his ability to explore/learn because he knows that we are here to help him and give him that love and reassurance IYKWIM?

  5. #5

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    Good topic, I was just beginning to wonder this myself. Maggie is really starting to get clingy. It was very noticeable with the in-laws here, she has become a Mummy's girl, but she is not at that extreme separation anxiety bit quite yet.

    I have found for now that some of it comes from being tired or not spending a bit of time with her when she wakes. Sometimes I am too impatient and am too quick to put her down, when all she needed was another minute

  6. #6

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    Mel I was thinking alot about what you did when Matilda started acting this way, thats why we decided if it was possible than we would go into a room alone & spend time together. Because we haven't had to deal too much with this, it was so good to remember your previous posts & others answers

  7. #7
    Melinda Guest

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    Oh cool! Glad to be of service!

    I think what you mentioned that you've done with Matilda is great too - that one on one attention and bonding time is really special and it sounds as though it goes a long way to reassuring her that everything is ok. We've definitely found the same thing - stopping what you're doing and giving the cuddles and soothing those tears, having a bit of a play and quiet time together is lovely and I think makes them feel safe and secure.

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