How I dealt with separation anxiety
Date: 27 Mar 2019
Our Marketing Team Leader, Jemma Wyman, talks about her experience with separation anxiety
Leaving your little one for the first time can be a daunting experience for both parent and child, even more so if the child becomes upset. This can become very distressing as a parent seeing your child crying every time you leave them.
I had left my now 6 year old with family a few times when she was younger while I ran some important errands such as shopping and so we made the decision at 9 months that we would put her in a nursery while I went back to work.
Choosing a nursery was a hard task, but when it is your first little one it seemed to be even harder. We were fortunate enough to have a nursery close to us that was homely, had an amazing reputation and had been rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted so this nursery seemed to be the best choice for us.
During the settling in sessions, every time I left my little girl she screamed, cried and reached out for me. It was heart breaking to hear and see, which made me feel a great deal of ‘mummy guilt’ that I had never experienced before. I once sat outside the nursery room and cried, because in that second, I doubted whether it was the right decision to put her in nursery at an early age. I had also questioned whether I had chosen the right nursery and if I was being a bad parent for going back to work while being a mummy. Fortunately, the Nursery Manager came to sit with me in the waiting area and made me feel so much better by talking to me about a topic that I was not aware of – separation anxiety.
After sitting with the Nursery Manager for a short while, I realised that my little one had stopped crying and the Nursery Manager reassured me that this was completely normal for children to behave in this way. I looked through the window and could see that my little girl was content while having cuddles with her soon to be key worker. In that moment, I felt relieved that she finally seemed to be happier.
When my little girl started to attend the nursery permanently, every morning for about 3 months we would go through the same routine whereby I would give her to her key worker, but when I left, she would scream and cry after me. To help with this, we used a soft toy that she had become attached to as a comforter that went to the nursery with her every day. The nursery also reassured me every day that she was fine, and that it was taking her less time each day to calm down and start enjoying her time at nursery – even if I did call three times a day to check!
I had discovered that separation anxiety usually begins for a child at 6 months and can continue until they are around 1 year old. After much further research on the topic, I realised that I was not the only parent going through this, so the ‘mummy guilt’ slowly started to subside. Once my little girl turned 1 the separation anxiety seemed to become less. This was helped with the fact that she became more mobile, which kept her preoccupied whenever she was left with family, friends or at nursery.
My little girl is now a very confident and outgoing person who sometimes still has moments when she is shy and would rather stay with me. However, the support from the nursery as well as the research that I did has helped us find ways for the both of us to cope. It has also meant that now my second little one is going through the same thing, I do not feel like a ‘guilty mummy’, but a mummy who is doing her best for her family.
If you are experiencing, or are concerned about experiencing separation anxiety with your child, please speak to your local Bright Horizons Nursery Manager who will be happy to support you.
Bright Horizons are proud to be working in partnership with NCT. We support their mission to help parents through the first 1,000 days, to have the best possible experience of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood. If you would like more information on the topic of separation anxiety from NCT, please visit https://www.nct.org.uk/baby-toddler/behaviour/separation-anxiety-or-just-clingy-everything-you-need-know.