Leaving a child in a day care center is now a necessity for working parents as there is no time anymore for them to care for their children at home. While it is easy for parents to just drop off their child in the day care center, it is not the same kind of feeling for the child. Most children in day care centers suffer from separation anxiety which could have a lingering effect on them. Parents therefore must take actions to prevent the child from having the feeling of insecurity and unease while being dropped off at the daycare. The idea of being separated from the parents and being left at the daycare center must be a wholesome idea for the child.
Separation anxiety disorder typically occurs in young children who are extremely unwilling to separate from major attachment figures such as parents, siblings, or from home. Separation anxiety occurs also when a child develops an attachment to a baby sitter or caregiver when the parents go away and will manifest by the time the sitter or caregiver has to leave.
Separation anxiety is characterized by excessive worry about potential harm toward oneself such as getting sick or having an accident in school while the protective parents are away. The anxiety can also include worries about what may happen to the parents after they have dropped off the child in the daycare center. These excessive, and of course unfounded, worries may manifest in some somatic complaints such as trembling, headaches, stomach aches, nausea, sweating, and in some extreme cases even nightmares.
Parents, therefore, must know how to make the child secure while being dropped off. They must remove the child’s fear of being abandoned by the parents, a child’s major fear as they always draw emotional support from them. Parents must be aware of cognitive-behavioral treatments that are focused on teaching the child major skills to identify the physical reactions to anxiety. Children must be taught how to identify their thoughts in anxiety-provoking separation situations together with the corresponding plan to cope or adapt with the situation.
Children need to be taught also how to evaluate the success of the coping strategies employed to eliminate the separation anxiety. They also must learn how to praise themselves for positively coping up with the separation without the resulting anxiety.
Parents can also employ other strategies to eliminate separation anxiety by the use of behavioral strategies like modelling, role playing, relaxation training, and other reinforced practices. Parents must develop a list of situations or activities that may prove challenging to the children such as attending a party without the parents or staying home with only a sitter or caregiver around. These are situations where the children can be slowly taught how to apply their coping skills and they must be properly rewarded with praise and encouragement as they show any degree of success.
Most importantly, parents must interact with their children in such a manner that will not inadvertently reinforce their fears of separation.
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