Parent Time

Baby Development Care to Teach Independence

Separation anxiety is a normal part of child development. About the time your child can start spending part of his days with other children and caregivers, he will realize that he only really feels safe with you.

Since this is also about the time (two years after giving birth) that Mommy would really like to get a sitter, go to dinner with another grown-up and watch a movie that doesn't involve the Care Bears, separation anxiety can cause problems at home. Every year, millions of parents walk down the driveway with lowered heads as a small child wails at the window, shaking off the loving hands of a well-paid babysitter and crying like he's never going to stop. It's tough on the kid (although most children stop crying within five minutes of the parents leave-taking) and it's hell on parents, who have plenty to feel guilty about already.

The causes of separation anxiety haven't been definitely established, but there are ways to handle the situation that can minimize stress and pain for everyone. Some children are quite happy crawling across the floor as long as they can turn and see Mommy on the other side of the room; others cling, cry and won't leave their parent's side. Children who start their infancy with multiple caregivers and lots of family around, who are used to being passed from adoring cousin to aunt, tend to be more comfortable adapting to new situations where they can derive comfort from someone other than a parent. Children who are especially sheltered, only children with parents who aren't highly sociable may have more trouble getting used to other caregivers.

Paradoxically, children who also don't mind being alone also have fewer problems with separation anxiety. When parents let their babies hang out in the crib or cradle on their own, babies learn the important art of self-soothing. Instead of crying and expecting someone to come running to entertain them, self-soothers (as long as they're not hungry, wet or teething) can be alone without being frightened or angry. You can hear babies who self-soothe talking, singing, cooing and generally amusing themselves when they're left alone in their rooms or cribs. These children establish an early measure of independence in playing along that keeps them from being utterly reliant on the presence of their parents.

Some children experience separation anxiety because their parents want their children to cry and miss them; parents' own insecurity can create separation anxiety! To minimize separation anxiety in your child, read these five steps and follow them to freedom!

1. Socialize your baby early with plenty of play dates, Gymboree or Mommy and Me. If you hate baby-related activities, take her out to lunch with other people once in awhile.
2. Encourage your baby to allow herself to be held and interacted with by family, friends and neighbors.
3. Make a baby-safe room and let your child practice crawling or toddling away from you and then back again. Send the message that you'll always be around, even if you aren't immediately to hand.
4. Don't let your own anxiety affect your baby's growing need for independence.
5. Both parents should put the baby down for naps, feed her and change her. The more family resources she has, the more secure she will feel,

Continue reading more baby tips about Swaddling a Fussy Baby

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