FOR many parents it can be emotionally and physically draining when children struggle to be separated from them. When faced with a screaming child parents can feel guilty for having a break or returning to work, and it may even prevent them from leaving their children altogether. We’ve put together some simple tips to support parents to feel more confident in dealing with separation problems.
Why do problems occur?
Separation problems are fairly common and may be more evident during stressful family times. Children may worry that a parent will not return or worry about their safety at times of transition such as moving house, family illness, or relationship problems. Problems may also occur when parents themselves are worried or feel guilty about leaving their children and so provide little opportunity for this to take place. Children may pick up that they should feel worried about being left because that is how the parent is feeling. Being positive shows your child that there is nothing to feel anxious about.
Problems can made worse by the manner in which the separation plays out. Giving children lots of attention or staying too long can accidentally reward the problem behaviour, causing children to do it again. Staying for too short a time, such as rushing in to drop them off, may create anxiety for the child also.
Make sure your child has visited where they will be staying and who they will be left with before leaving them on their own. Talk to your child about what will happen when they are there and ask if they would like to take anything with them, such as a special toy or something of yours to reassure them you are coming back. Prepare the caregiver on any special requirements and agree on a system for checking in.
Explain the steps
Develop a routine for being left and discuss it with your child. For example, we say hello to the nursery staff and other children, we find something to do, then we kiss mum/dad goodbye and have a good day. Explain that you will leave when you say goodbye even if they do not want you to. Remind your child when you will be coming back and how much fun they will have. You may like to offer a reward for following the steps, such as going to the park on the way home.
When you return spend some individual time with your child before you leave. Ask about what they did and praise them for any good behaviour or for following the steps outlined when you dropped them off. Remember to reinforce all of the positive behaviour and if there is something that did not go as well, set it as a goal with your child for next time.
For more info:
Community Family Care, based at Staunton, Gloucestershire helps families, children and young people in need of additional support. It seeks to improve parents’ confidence, help with routines to get children to school, or more complex support dealing with challenging behaviours at home. The work its staff carry out includes peer mentoring and life coaches for young people. Visit communityfamilycare.co.uk
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