Separation anxiety arises from the fear of being abandoned by the mother and generally appears around the eighth month of life. In some cases it may appear earlier, in others after.
How separation anxiety manifests itself
She always expresses herself with restlessness, difficulty falling asleep, frequent nocturnal awakenings, desperate cries when the mother goes away even if only to reach another room.
Separation anxiety can have various levels of intensity depending on the temperament of the child and the mother’s ability to reassure him. In this last regard, it is important that the mother on the one hand is very affectionate with the child and devotes herself to him completely whenever possible and on the other hand she shows herself serene in the face of any manifestation of discomfort. That is, the child must not acknowledge that the mother is frightened by her reactions, nor that she feels somehow guilty of what is happening to him, nor that she is irritated or, worse, angry.
Separation anxiety from mom or even dad?
The fear of being abandoned is a feeling that usually concerns the mother, but in some cases it can also develop towards the father. The possibility is frequent above all in cases where the father has taken care of the little one every day since the first months of life, also taking care of his hygiene. Exactly as a mother must do, even the father must make the child feel as much love as possible, not only by spending time with him but also by caressing him, kissing him, holding him close. Physical contact is indeed an extraordinary tool of consolation.
What to do if the child has separation anxiety?
What to do then? In addition to handing the teddy bear to the child, for its function as a symbol of affection and maternal presence, when the mother moves away from him she can offer him a previously worn T-shirt, in which therefore there is his smell. The trick is particularly comforting and, therefore, reassuring for most children.
On the other hand, summarizing what was written above, we can
- make the child feel affection
- spend time with the baby
- cuddle the baby (physical contact is a consolation tool)
(consultancy by Leo Venturelli, family pediatrician, author of numerous publications on outpatient pediatrics and co-author of popular books for parents including A child is born, The great encyclopedia of the child, From 0 to 6 years, a guide for the family )