From the first moment of their life, newborns get attached to their mothers and don’t yet understand that they are two separate human beings. A few months later babies start to discover they have a father, a grandmother, and siblings who love them too. Accordingly, they start to gradually develop a noticeable need to explore the surrounding world.
Attachment to parents is usually deemed a sign of a healthy relationship. It reflects the sense of security and safety taught in the child whenever they return back by the end of every exploration journey. However, a child's clinginess grows undesirable when they start to show a fear of interacting with others or going to places, like the nursery, without his/her parents.
Specialists see that clinginess to parents, especially to mothers, starts as early as the toddler turns 8 months and can last well into your child's second year. During this period, the child would feel abandoned whenever left alone and might cry and scream if the parents are out of sight. After turning two, children start to realize that their parents will leave them briefly then get back to them.
Why do some children suffer from a severe separation anxiety and refuse to go to the nursery?
There are various reasons that can account for separation anxiety, and overprotecting your child is a major one. Not allowing children the chance to depend on themselves or not letting them interact with peers can result in the unpleasant fear of separation.
How can you help your child overcome separation anxiety?
Preparation is key before registering your child at the nursery. Prepare them to be alone, and have them get used to the concept of having people other than you around take care of them. You can, for example, ask a friend or a relative to take your child on a picnic without you. When it's time to go to the nursery, convey that you're just leaving for work and will get back as soon as you are done. Tell your child about the enjoyable time they'll spend with friends in the class. Try to schedule playdates where you can take them on picnics to socialize with peers without being attached to you. Also, as you spend time together at home, try to let them play on their own while you watch over and do some work.
Furthermore, nursery teachers play a major role here to help children develop a sense of safety, capture their full attention with games and activities, and reassure them that their parents will be back soon. We, at Little Academy, are aware that separation anxiety is a natural developmental phase and will take great care of your children to help them grow out of it safely.
If your child cries, don't get emotional or sneak out immediately. Instead, cooperate with the teachers to calm them down and find a comforting activity that might serve as a distraction. You can also send a comfort item from home with your child to nursery such as their favorite blanket, toy, teddy bear etc.
Eventually, be sure that at one point your child will get comfortable in their new environment and will get involved in fun activities. Children only need time to get used to the unfamiliar faces which will soon enough become loved ones.