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"Mom, please don't leave me alone!" (pain of separation in children)

Parting pain (emotional development)

It doesn't matter whether it's in daycare, on a play date, or in a leisure activity - your child can feel the pain of parting with every separation. Separation anxiety shows that you are your child's safety net. You are the person who trusts it the most and needs it the most. And saying goodbye can hurt!

It's completely normal that you feel sorry for your child, or that you're annoyed because you have to go urgently. But remember, your child is a helpless being, full of love for you and needs support in this phase of fear and pain. He needs someone to help him out of this emotional state. These feelings can occur up to the age of seven and also during further transitions. There can be various reasons why separation anxiety arises, it is usually an interaction of the following.

your child's self-esteem: Self-confident children usually find it easier to say goodbye

Previous Separation Experiences: If your child has been separated from you more than once and has experienced that you will definitely come back again, it will most likely be a little easier for him to say goodbye

relationship with caregivers: If your child can fall back on a trusted reference person when saying goodbye, it gives him security, which also makes saying goodbye easier

Empathy: If your child has the feeling that you understand their feelings, acknowledge them and don't downplay them, this might make saying goodbye easier for them

Familiarity with the premises/environment: If you leave your child in a familiar environment, it will probably be easier to say goodbye

However, it can also simply be at the daily form your child is lying, maybe it slept badly, doesn't feel well, or it just has a very special need to be with you that day.

What can you do actively?

Show your kid real ones Empathy, talk to him as equals. Naming your child's feelings shows them that you see them and that you care about their needs.

A comfort object can help, this can for example be a personal item of yours, a scarf that smells like you, a bracelet or something similar. But it can be something you have made yourself, e.g. a painted stone.

Prepare your child transparent before the breakup, explain to him that you are leaving and what you will do afterwards. Do not prolong the farewell unnecessarily, as this will also prolong the pain of separation from your child. Leave the comforting to a caregiver. 

Complete Trust in the environment and caregivers. Talk about the setting at home, if you want you can z.Bsp. Draw pictures of it and hang it up with you.

Plane enough time for goodbye. Saying goodbye works best when it can be done without hectic and stress. Your child notices when you are stressed and this will then be passed on to your child.

Established a fixed farewell ritual, e.g. a secret sign, or a kiss on the nose.

Don't just sneak away if your child is distracted, sooner or later they will notice that you are gone. This will make your child feel abandoned by you, which in turn will negatively affect your trust.

tell your child where you are going and when you will be back. Statements such as "I'll pick you up at 16 p.m." are of little help to your child. But you can tell him "I'll pick you up after the nap". This is an understandable time for your child.

Even if you have observed all the points, it is possible that your child will still cry when you say goodbye. It is very important that the goal is not to prevent your child from crying or that your child suppresses his tears/grief. It's sad and it's allowed to express this sadness. With the tears, your child signals to those around him that he is overwhelmed by the situation and therefore needs comfort. The acute phase of mourning usually does not last long.

However, if the pain of separation persists for a long time, it is important to take a closer look. Even if your child seems depressed or sad after being picked up, seek a conversation with the respective care staff. 

When tears fall every time they say goodbye, parents often wonder if their child suffers from an anxiety disorder. In most cases, this concern is unfounded. The pain of separation usually disappears when your child has learned to cope with the pain with loving care. If an emotional disorder with separation anxiety is really present, the fears are much more pronounced and last beyond the typical age range.

Children who are affected by an anxiety disorder do not only suffer when they say goodbye, for example it is also a huge challenge for them to stay alone for a short time or with known people without their parents. Falling asleep is also often very difficult because they don't want to be "separated" from their parents in the evening. The pain of separation shows up not only in tears, but also in tantrums. In some cases, physical complaints can also occur, such as nausea, stomach ache, headaches, etc. If this is the case with your child, you can discuss it with your pediatrician or a child therapist.

Give your child and yourself time, goodbyes are never easy at first and they also have to be learned.

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