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Helping Your Toddler With Separation Anxiety

I remember it clearly. It was the first day of my Primary 1 journey and I was a nervous-wreck! Holding on as tight as I can to my father, I dreaded each step I took and feared the worst. But, why was I feeling this way? After all, I was used to seeing daddy leave the home every morning for work and return in the evening. I was not too sure why I felt the way I did, but let me tell you, the fear is real; especially when you know it is time to separate from your parent, and do things on your own.

Let’s face it, one of your most important goals as a parent is to raise children who would later become independent and self-reliant people.
Certainly, in early development, your children count on you. As infants, they rely on you for nourishment, cleaning, and mobility. As your children grow, they become more independent in these basic areas of living, but still depend on you for love, protection, guidance, and support. As your children reach adolescence and move towards adulthood, they become less reliant on you and gain greater independence
in all aspects of their lives. This process of separation prepares your children for the demands of adult life. But, it is never that easy.

We spoke to three parents and here are six tips to help you through you and your child’s journey to independence without the fear.

  • Let Them Pitch In
    When your child sees you doing anything vaguely interesting such as cooking, cleaning, or even gardening, they will want to get in there with you and help. When this happens, try to find a way for your child to assist you. They may not be able to stir a pot of spaghetti sauce, for example, but you can get the little one to fetch you the ladle, then place the mats on the table. “I always encourage my daughter to help me out in the kitchen. This is a good way to teach her to get things done on her own in a clean and safe manner”, shares Shazana Razak, a mother of two.
  • Allow Your Child To Take The Lead
    Every parent needs to set limits, but at times it’s alright to let your child take the reins, even if her decisions seem outlandish. “My four-year-old tends to insist on running around the house in his socks, and I never allow him as he may slip and fall, but to no avail. Thus, I allowed him to do it one day and after one slip, he finally understood why I never gave him the green light in the first place”, expresses Lina Chong, a mother of one. By allowing her to come to that conclusion on her own, you give her the chance to learn and grow.
  • Challenge Them A Little
    At a calm moment, ask your child to tell you three things they can do themselves, and have a little show-and-tell session at home. If your child hesitates to show you because of the fear of failing, motivate him to carry on. We suggest letting them try their hand at a self-checkout counter, or placing an order for their favourite meal. By challenging them, we are indirectly pushing them to foster more courage while ditching their fear too.
  • Practise Being ‘Absent’
    “I used to do this all the time to prepare my child for pre-school! All you need to do is to keep them busy and then mention that you’re
    going to the next room for a while. I started out with three minutes, then five, and so on. This way, your child is subconsciously getting
    used to being away from you”, advises Adeline Loh, a mother of two. This is a great way to get your child ready for the longer duration
    of separation at school. You could also make use of the hide-and-seek game for this!

What are your thoughts on separation anxiety in toddlers? Drop us a note down below.