Because tranquilizer darts aren't an option.
October 6, 2009 8:05 PM Subscribe
How do I minimize a toddler's separation anxiety and preserve her mother's hurt feelings?
posted by zoomorphic to Human Relations (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I regularly watch a 1 year-old who went from a placid, mellow baby who never cared who held her to a strong-willed, emotional toddler who gets hysterical when I leave. This got worse now that the mother is in between freelancing jobs and is around the house much more, as the toddler is confused by having us both around and constantly thinks I'm going to leave. This is typical 1 year-old behavior that simply caught us by surprise, but it's especially awkward every evening when the kid has an ear-splitting meltdown as soon as I put on my coat. The mother, someone whom I also consider my friend as well as an employer, is being a good sport about it, but I can tell it really hurts her feelings. The freak-outs have escalated to the point that the toddler cries so hard she throws up and the mother calls to see if I can come back. I think this is a bad idea that will reinforce the efficacy of freaking out. Am I being too rigid?
Slipping out when she was distracted was a terrible idea, as it apparently led to a worse-than-usual freak out. We tried to make a ritual of walking down the stairs (her favorite activity) so she can see me off, but then she just freaks out in the apartment lobby when I go. As parents, how did you deal with separation anxieties in babies who aren't really receptive to reasoning? Any books you personally recommend for separation anxiety? Tricks for getting out the door with minimum wailing?
I'm also looking for anything to say so the mother doesn't feel so rejected. She's a great mother, funny and inventive, so it's not like the tantrums bespeak a scary Lifetime Movies secret of neglect and abuse. I'm usually the person to whom she voices all of her maternal insecurities, and now I'm a source of more anxiety. I don't want to say anything insincere that makes it look like I feel sorry for her or am just trying to let her save face. So what can I say that diminishes the situation without embarrassing her and/or straining our professional relationship?