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fear of abandonment--how can I help DD?

Posted by mgorton45 (My Page) on
Thu, Jan 31, 02 at 13:23

Oh how I hope you can help me. I have DD, age 16mo, who is terrified of being left, and I have NO idea how to help her. I always tell her ahead of time about where I am taking her---and if I am going to leave her, I tell her often that I will be back. She cries non-stop when we go into the parking lot.

This happens when I try to go visiting a friend, or a different store, other than the grocery store, or Wal-Mart.

I do not know of a bad incident when I have left her at the church nursery, or at Mother's Day out (only done 2 times)

My heart breaks seeing her soooo upset. I have tried reading on such topics, but have not found anything that I have not tried. Maybe one of you will have an approach that you have used successfully.

Thank you for your time. Missy

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: fear of abandonment--how can I help DD?

All kids go thru separation anxiety at some point or another. When mine would hit this stage, I would regularly play hide and seek. (she was younger than yours, though, when I started it, but it always seemed to work even when she was older). The hide and seek lets them 'learn' in a fun way that even tho mommy/daddy is gone, she/he will be right back.

Not only is it normal, but it is also harder on us than it is on them :-) DD's 4 now and I still hate to leave her, so when we need to drop her somewhere, DH does the job :-) She does not seem to do the crying/clinging with DH like she does to me.

RE: fear of abandonment--how can I help DD?

You're daughter is just in that stage. You can't do much about it but leave or do whatever and be sure to show her you will be back. She'll get used to it and settle down. But there will still be times over the years when she'll get like that again and you'll just have to reassure her by showing. She won't understand or believe you just by hearing you say it.

Be careful though with forgetting her. That won't help you out any in the long run because kids tend to not forget that stuff. (Not saying that to make you feel guiilty it's just the facts~ask any older person about the time they're mother forgot to pick them up) So that may also be why she's having a difficult time with this stage.

Good luck.


RE: fear of abandonment--how can I help DD?

Be very breezy. Being overlysympathetic to her when she cries tells her she has a reason to cry--that she's right about her fears.

Don't tell her so often that you'll be back. If you have to keep reassuring her, then there really IS a risk you won't come back--or so her logic must go.

Don't make a big deal out of leaving. Definitely say goodbye, give her a kiss. But don't you fuss, so you won't unwittingly send the message that there is something to fuss about.

She might be a little young for this, but some parents have luck w/ giving the kid something to hang onto for them--"here, will you keep my baseball cap until I get back? I don't want to lose it, and I know it will be safe with you." Apparently some kids think we care more about our possessions than we do about them--we would NEVER abandon our baseball caps!

HAVE you ever left her somewhere without you? I don't mean forgotten her, etc., but left her safely in someone else's loving care? If you haven't done it very often, then that's a natural part of this situation. She's just not used to it, and she'll get used to it.

Also, and again I'm forgetting what 16-mo-olds are like, I've tried pointing out "I'll be back after you have lunch with Aunt Linda and then read your story, but before your nap" or something concrete and identifiable to her.

Another mistake I see some parents make at daycare dropoffs: The longer you hang around trying to make her feel good about your leaving, the longer you're torturing her (she ISN'T going to be OK w/ you leaving, and she can't begin to calm down and discover that she's not dead or dying until AFTER you leave). So make the goodbyes short, too!

Good luck! It truly does hurt us more than them.

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