It has been a strange time for everyone over the past few months. With creches, schools and workplaces starting to open back up you may be thinking “how will my child adapt to this?”.
We have heard from so many parents who have previously had adventurous and out-going children Pre-Covid who have now gone back to the work place and their child is now shy, clingy and anxious.
The little people in our lives are going through something that they cannot quite comprehend. It’s so important for us to remember to take it slow with them. We need to ease them back into some semblance of normality over the coming weeks and months.
Our main piece of advice to bare in mind is that this is completely normal! Nearly all children go through a ‘clingy phase’ at around the 10 – 18 month mark, but it may happen as early as 6 months.
There are two types of clinginess children may show. Separation anxiety, where your child has a fear of being away from their parents or Stranger anxiety, where the fear is focused on people being a your child that they may not know. Stranger Anxiety often becomes a reality when children start into creche or school, where there are lots of new faces.
How to recognise Separation Anxiety
- They may cry when left with someone other than yourself.
- They may not want to play on their own.
- Their sleep pattern may change or they may refuse to sleep alone anymore.
- They overly worry about a family member or becoming lost from family.
- Refusing to go to school or creche.
So how can you help your child to overcome their fears?
Be that safe space for your child to come back to
Our children have probably only just gotten used to their new routines of being at home and having a parent around full time. This is another huge upheaval when any of this routine may change and could trigger some anxiety.
Talk it out
If your child is old enough, sit down with them and have a chat about what the new routine will look like. Go through wake up times, lunchtimes and when everyone will be back home. Make sure to do this with as much notice as possible to help ease into the new situation. Plan for something fun to do later with your child, something as simple as ‘once I’m home, we’ll sit down with some hot chocolate and do a puzzle or make a craft!’ This reinforces the idea that yes, you will return.
If your child is too young to understand, making sure they know that you will be coming back is the most important thing to do. If you are one of the lucky ones where you’re returning to work but your partner is able to remain at home, leaving your child in another room – whilst supervised by your partner – for a period of time before coming back is a good way for them to get used to you leaving, but also returning. Though not ideal, it will help to gradually ease the transition.
Leave something familiar with them
Making sure they have a favourite toy or something that has your smell on it can help some clingy babies. If you like the idea of a favourite toy – make sure you buy a few spare and keep them in the attic! Trust us, you’ll thank us!
Try not to cry in front of them
Okay so we’ll be the first to admit, we sobbed our hearts out for our children’s first day in school! The important part here is to wait. Drop your child off at school/creche, give them a BIG huge and wave them off. Then call your best friend and bawl your eyes out. Children can sense when you’re anxious or tense, making sure they don’t pick up on it will greatly help to ease any anxiety of their own.
Get back to routine
Children thrive on routine which is why you may have experienced some difficulty over the last few months with everything going topsy turvy! Getting back to that routine is key to easing your child’s anxiety and helping them to become the independent little people you know they can be.
Don’t forget, that this is all a normal part of a child’s development and is nothing to be worried about. You got this!