How to Prepare Your Kids With Separation Anxiety for a Babysitter

By Alicia Geigel on March 12, 2022

When working with a babysitter, there are always a few bumps in the road that you can experience with your kids, ranging from sick days to separation anxiety. Most kids have some level of separation anxiety, but some deal with this better than others. As a parent, if your children have separation anxiety, it can seem incredibly difficult and overwhelming to deal with by yourself, let alone with a babysitter, leaving you to feel hopeless about how to fix the situation.

While you may not be able to completely rid your kids of their separation anxiety, there are several ways to prepare them and help them cope with your leaving so your babysitter can have a calmer situation to work in.

Are you a parent with children that suffer from separation anxiety? Looking for tips to help them through this while utilizing a babysitter? Here are a few ways to prepare your kids when you hire a babysitter.

child, mother, father, parents, toddler, love, happy, together

Image via Pexels

What is Separation Anxiety?

Separation is fairly common and normal among infants and toddlers. According to Psychology Today, “separation anxiety refers to excessive fear or worry about separation from home or an attachment figure.” It can show up in a number of different ways, but will mostly consist of markers like crying, excessive clinginess, and general upset.

How to Prepare Your Child Before a Babysitter

1. Remain Calm as You are Leaving: Kids are incredibly observant of their environment, including the emotions and attitudes of those around them. The absolute worst thing you can do as you are leaving is to react emotionally to your child, meaning getting visibly upset or angry at them. Your child will pick up on your emotions, and react accordingly, which will make the situation difficult for both you and the babysitter. Instead, try to keep your emotions at bay. If your child is crying or having a tantrum, talk to them in a calm and loving manner, and reassure them that you will be back.

2. Don’t Rush Out the Door: Part of what can trigger an emotional response in a child with separation anxiety is the abrupt, sudden absence of a parent. In toddlers especially, they don’t have the cognitive ability to recognize that you are not gone forever, so all they can process is that you are gone, which can certainly stir up feelings of fear, distress, and worry. Instead of rushing out the door as a means to cut yourself out of the situation as quickly as possible, spend some time with your child before you leave. Lead up your transition throughout this time, and show signals to your child like putting on your shoes and coat, grabbing your keys, etc.

3. Communicate Your Goodbyes: While young children aren’t capable of lengthy conversations, they do understand what you tell them. It is important that you communicate your goodbyes with your child before leaving to give them a crystal clear idea of what you are doing, where you are going, and most importantly when you will be back. Maintain this conversation throughout the day up until you leave, not in the last five minutes. Consistent reminders and communication can help your child feel more at ease and in control of their emotions. Furthermore, you can communicate things to do when you get back, which can make them excited and happy about your return.

4. Provide Distractions for Your Kids: When all else fails, distractions are a great way to help your child through their separation anxiety. These distractions help more if you are apart from them, however. Playing a game, watching a movie, using a tablet, preparing a meal, etc. are all different ways to focus your child’s attention on an activity rather than your absence. If you partake in it partially, it will make for a greater transition for when you leave.

5. Don’t Let The Goodbye Play-out Too Long: Just as a sudden departure is bad for your child, a long, dramatic goodbye is equally as bad. As stated earlier, children pick up on the emotions and attitudes of those in their environment. If you are having a difficult time with the goodbye and are dragging it out, your child will be more inclined to react in the same manner and cling more to you. Matthew Taylor of Kids Sit notes, “Letting parents come back when their kid cries will encourage them to cry in order to get their parents to return or stay a little bit longer every time.”

mother, child, baby, toddler, happy, smile, love

Image via Pexels

Having a babysitter take care of your child with separation anxiety is undeniably a difficult situation. Crying, tantrums, and stress are things you never want to see occur in your child. These tips will help make you and your babysitter feel more in control of the situation while making your child happier and calmer, preparing them for growth and development in the future.

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