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Separation Anxiety

  • 1.  Separation Anxiety

    Posted 06-14-2021 07:07 PM
    I hired an infant educarer several weeks ago. Her son just turned 1. He has had to be in her room because the 1s morning position is vacant. He has a classic case of separation anxiety when she goes on break. Having hired a floater, we are starting to bring him into the 1s to adjust him to the new room. Today he cried for a while on return to Mom. She feels lost when he cries. I know it's just a matter of time until we redirect his attention to new people. (I know this phase can last up until 23 months). Any ideas and experiences from those who have been in the caregiver-Mom/Director position would be appreciated.

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    Patricia Jack
    Owner/Director
    Jack and the Beanstalk Child Care Center LLC
    Boulder City NV
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  • 2.  RE: Separation Anxiety

    Posted 06-16-2021 08:59 AM
    Hello Patricia,

    As a former Administrator and Director of ECE programs, I appreciate your interest to support a new member of your staff and her infant as it sounds like they are both adjusting to your ECE program. A few thoughts for your consideration with this issue are:

    - It sounds like the mom needs support in separating from her son. I imagine that during the past year the mom and her infant became close and the mom may have had limited opportunities to leave home resulting in a strong bond between the two of them. I sometimes had the parent leave the room and return in 5 minutes and then continued this procedure adding 5 minutes, as soon as possible. I also made sure a picture of the family was in the room and when the parent left, the other teacher would talk with the infant about how he/she felt and described the parents in the picture in the room.

    - I would be doing written observations, as often as possible,  of the behavior of the teacher and her son when she left the room and analyzing the observations to see what strategies were most effective to build a strong, trusting relationship with the other teacher(s) in the classroom.

    - I would support the mom as she explores how she is feeling when she leaves and returns to the classroom and develop a plan to support her in getting comfortable with leaving her son with other teachers.




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    Robert Gundling, Ed.D.
    Better Futures LLC
    Senior Consultant
    Washington, DC
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  • 3.  RE: Separation Anxiety

    Posted 06-16-2021 11:13 AM
    Thank you!

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    Patricia Jack
    Owner/Director
    Jack and the Beanstalk Child Care Center LLC
    Boulder City NV
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  • 4.  RE: Separation Anxiety

    Posted 06-16-2021 02:44 PM
    :) Making progress!

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    Annaluz Rockefeller
    Early Start Teacher
    Glenn County Office of Education
    Orland CA
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  • 5.  RE: Separation Anxiety

    Posted 06-17-2021 07:27 AM
    Hi!  I was an infant teacher for 15 years and I have asked moms to bring in an article of clothing that I could put on (sweater, scarf etc) during feedings, a number of times!  It always seemed to help!  Of course, it depends on your comfort doing that but worth a shot.  Best of luck!  Strong relationships take time.

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    Missy Faugno
    Norwalk CT
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  • 6.  RE: Separation Anxiety

    Posted 06-17-2021 09:29 AM
    A number of years ago I conducted interviews with teacher-mommies, early childhood educators who had their own child in their classroom. I was also one of those educators. ☺️
    Here are some key findings.
    1. Mom needs support from other teachers/supervisor to feel her feelings and to make a plan to support both child and herself.
    2. Child needs support and the acknowledgement that their situation IS different as their mom doesn't leave, she is still in the room - or next door.
    3. Consistent rituals and routines really help, as does communicating through your actions the belief that both child and parent are going to be ok. You can do it, is the message.
    4. The younger the child, the longer it takes to adjust.
    5. Each dyad responds uniquely as we are all individuals.

    It sounds like you are working hard to support this situation. Good for you to not just assume it can't be done. All the moms I interviewed said it was ann opportunity they wouldn't give up, even though it was challenging, because they got to see their child learn to function in a group.

    Good luck to all,
    Dottie

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    Dottie Bauer
    Professor emerita
    Keene State College
    Antrim NH
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  • 7.  RE: Separation Anxiety

    Posted 06-16-2021 01:19 PM
    This is something you could try, if you haven't.  Have mom and teachers sing a transition song, keeping the energy happy and smiley.  And let the child transition with something small of mom's. When they come together again, they can reunite with a happy to see you song with hugs and kisses. Once the child is acclimated with coming and going the songs can fade.

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    Annaluz Rockefeller
    Early Start Teacher
    Glenn County Office of Education
    Orland CA
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  • 8.  RE: Separation Anxiety

    Posted 06-16-2021 01:40 PM
    Thank you very much. I gave her the break yesterday. I exaggerated words in stories and songs and it seemed to help.

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    Patricia Jack
    Owner/Director
    Jack and the Beanstalk Child Care Center LLC
    Boulder City NV
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  • 9.  RE: Separation Anxiety

    Posted 06-16-2021 01:36 PM
    I wasn't in the mom-caregiver role, but I did have twins in my class whose mother worked in the program, and we would cross paths very often. Before she had been hiding or trying to sneak around to avoid upsetting them. As you said, it took some time for us to get in a routine of seeing the mother, feeling safe enough to say hello, knowing that it wasn't time to go home yet and seeing her later. After talking with the family, we came up with a plan. A couple of things we implemented with mom was to acknowledge the twins, say hello and use the phrase "I'll see you later"; she did this consistently. My part was to comfort, repeat that she would see them later and redirect them to their family picture. It became easier as they got used to the routine and we both had consistent responses. One of the resources I used before talking with the family was from the article below. I hadn't thought about the phrase "How you are is as important as what you do" and I think that was a key factor in setting that routine.

    Rocking and Rolling: Difficult Goodbyes Supporting Toddlers Who Are Coping with Separation Anxiety


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    Mary Samour
    Online Community Manager
    National Association for the Education of Young Children
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  • 10.  RE: Separation Anxiety

    Posted 06-16-2021 01:51 PM
    Thank you very much, @MarySamour !​

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    Patricia Jack
    Owner/Director
    Jack and the Beanstalk Child Care Center LLC
    Boulder City NV
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  • 11.  RE: Separation Anxiety

    Posted 06-16-2021 02:40 PM
    Good share. Thank you.

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    Annaluz Rockefeller
    Early Start Teacher
    Glenn County Office of Education
    Orland CA
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  • 12.  RE: Separation Anxiety

    Posted 06-17-2021 11:37 PM
    Hello Patricia,

    I am a firm believer in letting children bring a toy to preschool every day.  This helps the child when mom leaves to have their toy from home.

    Of course, I know most preschools would never consider it, but it does ease tensions when mom drops off.

    So there are rules to follow to achieve this, the children put a name on it or can easily identify it, the toy goes into the sharing box to the child's cubby, and they don't play with it throughout the day.  It is for sharing time during circle/group time.  Each child gets their toy at circle time and when it's their turn they stand up and say their name and talk. And tell everyone about the cool toy they brought.  Children learn so much from bringing a toy and sharing it at circle time. It helps children to say it loud and proud.
    they learn to talk in a group in front of people. They get to explain what they want to say. and everyone claps when they are done, and puts the toy away.  It teaches the children a lot and it makes group time fun.

    Not sure if you can integrate this into your program, but it solved a lot of security issues instead children come in excited to show everyone their toy for the day.
    Thank you


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    Melanie Smith
    The Preschool Doctor
    thepreschooldoctor.com
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  • 13.  RE: Separation Anxiety

    Posted 06-19-2021 11:45 AM
    I'm curious to know what kind of toys children bring and if this practice increases a child's dependence on marketed and material objects.
    Deb
    Growing Wonder 





  • 14.  RE: Separation Anxiety

    Posted 06-19-2021 01:21 PM
    Hello Deborah,

    That's a great question. We do explain the toys should not be some kind of big expensive toys  things that work are like favorite toy, for example a doll, car, book, stuffed animals.
    Children should be able to play with toys.
    Going into psychological affects of toys on children is a whole other thing.
    I know children love them. 🧸🦄🐸🦕🐨🐈🐰🚗🚔🏎🚓

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    Melanie Smith
    The Preschool Doctor
    thepreschooldoctor.com
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