What to do if my child does not want to be separated from me

When a boy does not want to be separated from his mother or father, it is certainly because they feel a small emotional dependence, something that is not at all negative when they are small. For this reason, when the children have to be left in the nursery for the first time, the parents and the children have such a hard time, because the little one does not want to be separated from his parents.

If you are a mother, you know that the emotional bond that exists between mother and baby is not only strong, but almost unfathomable. If you were always in charge of taking care of your baby during the first year of life (with your partner, of course), then you also know that this bond has become even stronger. But when the first months of life are over, children can feel great anxiety when they are separated from the mother. Then, what to do if my son does not want to separate from me?

Father time, all the time

There are children who go through the phase that every mother/father knows: “mommy phase” or “daddy phase” . We may think that being locked up with the child 24 hours a day can fulfill his desire, but no, we must not fall into temptation. In fact, we must try to do the opposite.

Many parents have experienced these phases in the last two years, when the Covid 19 crisis forced us to stay indoors for a long time. The pandemic and lockdown made them much more dependent on mom or dad for everything: school activities, games, everything; and vice versa, including participating in parenting activities, working from Zoom, yoga classes, online shopping, absolutely everything.

It can be charming to us that they want to be with us, but it is not healthy in the long term . Experts in child psychology say that it is normal for the child in moments of crisis or fear to develop a preference for one of the parents, who rebuilds his comfort zone, so to speak. If before your child was “mommy’s baby”, the pandemic intensified this situation and today he still tells us to get out.

And we have to know that if the child does not want to be separated from us, there is a certain degree of power and control behind it . If we do not change the situation alone, we empower our son and we confirm that “it is what he wants, who he wants and when he wants”.

There are children to whom this happens early, like after nine months, and others (as in the case of my son), who are from a year and a half and even a little more, when they can feel this great separation anxiety, something that they and their fathers and mothers also feel bad. The separation crisis is a common part of children’s development, it can start around eight months and peak at 14 or 18 months, but usually it goes away gradually in early childhood.

If your son feels separation anxiety It is likely that he cries when someone he does not know wants to pick him up, and when he succeeds, he only looks for you and calls you to return to your arms. If this happens to your little one, you should not worry, because it is something that, as I said, almost magically disappears when the child crosses the barrier of three years.

But if you feel bad and your child becomes very irritable, you can follow these tips on what to do if your child does not want to be separated from you: 

  • Tell your child calmly and don’t panic, remember that this is normal.
  • Your son doesn’t understand the concept of time so he thinks that if you leave you can’t come back, that’s why he is depressed.
  • One idea is to get your child used to spending time with people other than you such as family and friends.
  • When you go somewhere (even if it’s only for a moment) he always lets you know even if you think he’s not paying attention to you or that he doesn’t understand you.
  • If you have to say goodbye to go to work or leave him at school, don’t prolong the moment and when you see him again, show him your great joy and if you can, stay with him for a while in the new space before separating. That will reduce your stress.
  • You can leave him something he wants, a toy, a doll, a pillow or a blanket. These objects help you feel more secure. Gradually you can take them off.
  • Tell whoever you are leaving your child with (relative, friend or institution) that the child is afraid of being separated from you and show what you are doing to solve it.
  • Never show yourself worried about leaving him.
  • . Don’t get angry because he or she is afraid. It’s not your fault.
  • You can read him a fictional story in which the protagonist feels the same as him, so that he identifies. This will help him, but also you, so you can discover how your son feels.

After the child is in kindergarten and school age, the anxiety is left behind. Of course, there are always times when he wants to be alone with you: when he is sick, when he feels bad… Should you worry at any time, even if we say that this situation is normal?

You should only take action if you think your child has developed separation anxiety disorder. Only 4% of preschool and school-aged children develop it, and one way to find out is when:

  • the child’s anxiety is interfering with his life and that of your family
  • is more difficult than that of children of age
  • He didn’t leave for at least four months.

If we compare a child with separation anxiety disorder with others of the same age, they could usually worry about being hurt or having an accident if they are not with you , they don’t want to stay at school , they don’t want to sleep in other places or without you , complain of feeling sick when they are gone. Only then can they think about the help of a professional, who can be a teacher, a school counselor, a pediatrician.