You’ve finally potty trained your little one and have sorted out his sleeping routine–but now, he’s at it all over again. Waking up in the middle of the night, crying out for you or for no reason at all. He hates the idea of being left alone and can throw a tantrum when you go out of the room while he’s playing. It’s a little unnerving and confusing at the same time. Guess what, this may signal separation anxiety in toddlers.
While this is considered a milestone in terms of the growth and development of a young child, it is essential to find certain solutions to make this challenge work to your toddler’s advantage– and to give you breathing room, too. So, what signs should you look for and what could be done to ensure that this will turn a new leaf for your child.
- Interrupted Sleep. It is common for toddlers with separation anxiety to be forcefully awake during ungodly hours at night. They will cry out for Mom or Dad, and may even conjure bedroom monsters and other scary imaginary tactics to get your attention. At times, it will take a bulldozer of effort to make toddlers sleep without you at their side.
- Early Bird. Think about waking up at 3 AM to a toddler who seems to struggle going back to sleep. They will sneak into your room and snuggle close to be able to go through the rest of the early dawn. Or a toddler may start horsing around a bleary-eyed exhausted you. Tantrums can happen when they’re ushered back to their room or when stopped at whatever they’re doing at such ungodly hours.
Solution: Sleep Machine
Gear up your little tot’s room with a sleep machine like the award-winning Sight & Sound Sleep Soother Projector with Bluetooth from Project Nursery. Stream relaxing songs and music in your child’s room complete with images and shapes projected on the ceiling or the wall. White noise background will also help them relax and go into a deep sleep, while wall/ceiling projections stimulate learning and independence essential as they start pre-school.
- Cry Baby. What was supposed to be a non-issue a few months ago suddenly comes back in full force– being left with someone else other than you. Just as you have become accustomed to leaving him to a few hours of daycare or at the nursery, so does the sudden shift in attitude. In some cases, he may even throw a bucketful of tears when being around aunts or uncles, and other familiar people other than you.
- Howling Lone Wolf. Your tot is back to being upset when left alone– even when you’re just in the other room. You can’t even hold a few minutes of being in the shower or inside the bathroom to do your morning routine. Toddlers with separation anxiety easily cry when left to feign for themselves even for just a minute or two. Also, they may tend to be held more and are a lot clingier than usual.
Solution: Essential Oil
Experts suggest wearing essential oil either as a perfume or as a body lotion. Encourage carers and other people surrounding your child to do the same. This 100 percent therapeutic grade essential oil from Fabulous Frannie, for instance, has bergamot, grapefruit, and ylang-ylang that helps to calm emotions and soothe tension, anxiety, stress, and sad feelings. You may also use it on a diffuser around your home and then, have it in the daycare or other people’s homes where your child may be left for care. Simply add a few drops to a lotion, a diffuser or a cleaning item. This is quite helpful particularly to busybody parents who often leave their toddlers in the care of others. This is one way to associate the scent with you, allowing them to be calmed as if you are there with them.
- Bored At Play. Your toddler may also find it hard to play with toys, even his favorite ones. They may associate these toys with you and no longer feel attached to them as they used to. Or they may demand more of your time to play with them.
Solution: Interactive Play
It is high time for your child to move past fun toys to ones that stimulate learning. Interactive toys must be introduced as early as 1 year old to help develop their skills and encourage independence by playing alone. This Touch and Learn Activity Desk from VTech, for instance, help a toddler learn math, language, science, social studies, creative arts, and so on. Allowing your child to explore new stuff on their own will help usher his way to a more responsible independent child later on in school.
Never let yourself be fooled by believing in the “this, too, shall pass” mantra when dealing with separation anxiety in toddlers. Observe carefully how your child behaves as he grows and find ways to ensure that he’s trudging the right path. If the problem worsens amid carving solution then, a quick check with a child psychologist may help identify issues preventing them from blowing out of proportion.