Providing Reassurance

January 31st, 2012 by Dionna | Leave a comment
Posted in Consensual Living, Consistent and Loving Care, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, My Family, natural parenting, Respond with Sensitivity

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During my third trimester of pregnancy, our 3.5 year old had a renewed bout of separation anxiety. We were able to successfully address it by focusing on three areas: learning to respect everyone’s needs, providing reassurance, and dealing with our own anxiety. Today I’m sharing how we reassured Kieran (read the first part of this story here). Also, be sure to check out 13 Ideas to Gently Manage Separation Anxiety over at Natural Parents Network for more tips.

provide reassurance

Providing Reassurance

As I explained in the previous post, Tom and I were helping Kieran work through separation anxiety so that we could have some couple time before our second child was born. We started by talking about how we all have needs, and one of our family’s values was to respect the needs of others.

When we talked about our needs, Kieran told us that he was scared to be away from a parent. We talked a lot about how he had always been safe at our friend’s house, that she loved him just like we do, and that we would only be gone for a certain amount of time.1 All three of us (me, Tom, and Kieran) offered suggestions that might make Kieran more comfortable – he could wear a watch and we would give him a set time that we would return, we could call to check in with him, he could bring something special along, etc. Ultimately, he chose to bring one of his superhero costumes and his watch.

Particularly frustrating to us was that every time we initially brought the subject up, Kieran would adamantly refuse to discuss it; he said that he would “hang on to the table leg so that he would not go to the car.” We recognized that it was overwhelming to Kieran to think about the enormity of being dropped off at our friend’s house, so we started talking about doing things just one step at a time. We will get in the car, we will walk into her house with you, we will leave for a bit, you will play with your friends, we will pick you up in two hours. Similarly, on the evening of our date, we focused on only one step at a time (even though Kieran knew what was ultimately going to happen).

Wisdom from Amy of Peace 4 Parents

After you have determined everyone’s needs, how to meet them, and decided that you will meet them – resistance may arise. Resistance can be worked through, though! As you provide support to yourself, partner, and child, consider what helps everyone through emotional upheaval and what may be at the root of the anxiety. If the child is afraid of being apart from you, can you include a picture of yourself or another comfort, let her know you will be back, and take a few moments to imagine with her what it will be like when you are together again (smiles, hugs, and all)? If your child isn’t sure she will enjoy being with someone else, can you help her prepare by getting to know the caregiver and spending time together with the caregiver before the separation? If she has special interests, can you discuss those with the caregiver so they may explore them together during the separation?

You and your partner may need reassurance, too. Consider making a list of what has not worked in the past regarding separations and what may work now. You can even brainstorm questions like “If the separation were to go really well, what would that look like?” or “How many ideas can I come up with to help support the whole family in experiencing separation in a new way?” If you need assistance, explore options with like-minded parents, family, or someone who provides parenting support.

  1. For the record, we have no doubts or fears that Kieran would ever be unsafe with this caregiver. We trust her implicitly.

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