4 Ways to Prevent a Meltdown
Separation anxiety can be hard for both a child and a parent. Seeing your child break down every time you have to leave them is heartbreaking. And it can cause you to feel guilty or even frustrated, not knowing how to prevent a meltdown.
The cause of separation anxiety can be a variety of things. For example, a change in the environment, like moving to a new home or school, can trigger it. Any time a child feels unsafe or not secure without you, it could lead to symptoms of separation anxiety.
So, what can you do to help your child get through it? Can the meltdowns that happen when you leave be avoided?
With time and effort, yes, they can.
Let’s look at a few ways to prevent a meltdown.
1. Create a Quick “Goodbye” Ritual
Rituals and routines can be comforting to babies and young children. An action that is done over and over again lets them know it’ll be the same every time. So, your “goodbye” ritual means that, eventually, you’ll come back to get them.
It’s also important to say goodbye relatively quickly and without making a big deal over it. It can be tempting to linger, give them one more hug or kiss, etc. By reducing the amount of fanfare you give your farewell, it will make it easier for both of you.
2. Start Small
For some children, you may have to do “practice runs” when it comes to leaving them with someone new. If you have a new caregiver or your child is going to a new school, practice what things will be like ahead of time.
Try leaving them with that individual for a few minutes one day, and then a few minutes more the next. Gradually, you can go for more extended periods or travel further away from the location.
Once your child starts to see that they’re safe with that particular caregiver, it’s easier to prevent a meltdown when you leave in the future.
3. Be Consistent
If at all possible, keep your child’s surroundings the same. If you regularly have a caregiver for your child, it can be better for them to come to your house, rather than have your child go to their place. And if your child has to go to a daycare or school, allow them to bring one thing from home to make them feel comfortable.
It’s also better if the primary caregiver for your child is consistently the same person. Switching out babysitters every week won’t help with your child’s anxiety. Having as much consistency as possible when it comes to time spent in someone else’s care will help to ease their worries.
4. Keep Your Promises
Did you tell your child you would be back to pick them up at 5 pm? Then, that’s exactly when you need to be there. Don’t be late just because you think your child can handle it.
They’ll start to build confidence over time that they’ll be okay with you away. But you can easily break that confidence if you break a promise to them.
By following through on your commitments to pick them up at a specific time, you’re reassuring them even more that they can not only handle being away from you but also that everything will go back to normal at the end of the day.
Remember, It’s Not Forever
It can be tempting to give in to your child when they’re having a meltdown, but the best thing you can do is to reassure them everything will be okay. Giving in will only make things harder in the long run. For some more helpful hints, check out Family Education.
If your child is struggling with separation anxiety, try the solutions above to make leaving times easier for you both. If nothing seems to be helping, though, please feel free to contact me or visit my page on children and grief counseling to learn more.
Together, we can work on figuring out the underlying cause for your child’s separation anxiety and find different ways of dealing with it.