View Full Version : New Child with Separation Anxiety

07-16-2014, 03:25 PM
I have a great new 2.5 year old boy, who just started with me this week. When his parents drop him off, he comes with me to check on the hermit crabs, there as been a few tears, but at this time they last for less than a minute (if at all).

He talks up a storm, repeats a lot of what is being said, but will answer some questions when asked. He is generally happy when my sons or I are in the same room with him, helping to direct his play. If my boys are in their bedrooms playing and I am busy (making meals, cleaning up, going to the bathroom), he starts crying for mom and will only settled down when the group comes back together. Usually, by his age children can self calm, but he is needing the comfort of the group to do so. I am not so worried about the separation anxiety around his parents, its the difficulty he has to keep himself busy for short periods of time. I have found that as soon as he is not kept busy by someone else, he becomes overwhelmed by the fact that mom is not here and he can't keep himself away from looking for mom/dad out the window. Which then increases the crying. If I stop what I am doing to help him calm, I can't get stuff done.

This summer my other DHKs are away more then they are here, so I don't always have the usual crew to help out. How do I help him feel comfortable playing independently without direction from others?

07-16-2014, 04:17 PM
Do you know much about his ability to self entertain at home? My response would be much different if he was merely needing some distraction in his initial week in care to forget about missing mom versus his being a child that has never had a moment to sit, think, play and be bored in his own because he has constantly been entertained thus far.

Was he in previous group care or home with mom?

07-16-2014, 04:41 PM
He was in a day home in different area.

I am not sure how much direction was given to the children there.

At home his parents are quite hands on. When one is making supper, the other is playing with him. His parents have a great relationship with him.

When I am very hands on, doing circle time, playing games, crafts, he does great. As soon as I am busy, and my boys are not playing with him, that's when he starts getting upset.

I have dealt with separation anxiety before and the transition times and periods when the child is tired is when the anxiety is worse. For this little boy, it seems to be his free time when the anxiety is at its peak.

07-16-2014, 09:44 PM
My advice would be to just leave him. It sounds as though he is constantly entertained and doesn't know what to do when left. He will soon learn that crying doesn't get someone running to his side to entertain. At his age it shouldn't take too long to catch on.

07-17-2014, 06:28 AM
I agree with Mickyc, I learned pretty quickly in doing this that the more you "entertain" even program for the kids the more they expect it. When I first started I did all kinds of stuff and the kids struggled with free play. I stepped back majorly and the kids have developed fantastic imaginations and skill sets. That being said, sometimes cold turkey does not always work well especially if this child is struggling with anxiety. I would take a step back for sure and I would set up certain times when you are free that they have to do indiv play. This way you can help coach him but he develops the skills. He can have a special "box" of activities he can access during this time so he looks forward to the indiv play time. I would also let the parents know that he is struggling with this and ask them to support you at home by allowing him to play on his own at times. The I would leave him to figure it out without your involvement.

07-17-2014, 08:15 AM
I also find that the more programming you do, the less that they learn to free play independently. My program is always more lax in the summer, and I find they free play beautifully lately. What if you warned him and said "ok DCB, after circle time it is going to be time for you to go play and have fun with some toys while I go do xyz". I find a lot of kids respond well to knowing what comes next and if he starts to fuss I would leave him for a bit and try to ignore and do what you need to get done.

07-17-2014, 09:15 AM
Provide something for him to do alone in whatever room/area you are in so you are still in his vision. So he can have a basket with books or puzzles, etc. in the kitchen while you make lunch. It does sound like he may have come from a very structured program and for sure is like that at home that he is told what to do when.

07-17-2014, 10:20 AM
Thank you for all your advice.

I had books set out for him this morning for him to look at and read while I was getting my son ready for the day. I read one then said it was his turn to read the books by himself. I also put the big Barbie house in front of the window, so he can focus on the toys, books or activities that he is doing. So far the morning is going better. Hopefully, within a week or two I can say "go play" and he will get the toys out on his own.

My day home is loosely structured, I enjoy leading circle time, but I strongly believe in free play. Its going to be a work in progress getting this boy to play like the others, but he will get it.:)