Norrin was an “easy” baby. He rarely fussed and he went with anyone willing to hold him. Norrin had no problem staying with babysitters when I returned to work. Even as a toddler, the first time I put him on the little yellow school bus – he didn’t cry. As a new mom, it kind of hurt my feelings. I thought he didn’t care leaving me, but it probably would have felt so much worse if he had. It’s only over the last few years Norrin has expressed separation anxiety.
At 11-years-old (OMG – I cannot believe he’s 11 years old), he is very aware of my presence and when I’m not around. On the weekends, if he sees me getting ready to go out, he immediately starts asking where I’m going and when I’ll be back.
My 9-to-5 job doesn’t require that I travel but as a blogger, sometimes I do.
It’s tough seeing my son in distress every time I walk out the door or have to leave on a trip. Here are 8 things I’ve been doing to ease his anxiety.
8 tips to Help Kids with Separation Anxiety
Mark it on a calendar.
We talk about the days of the week and the months on a daily basis. During the times when I travel, I print out a separate calendar and mark the day I leave and when I return. While I’m away, my husband, Joseph, goes over the calendar with Norrin. I also communicate with his teacher so they can do the same, if Norrin becomes upset during class.
Last year, I went to California and before I left, I picked up a puzzle map of the United States. I showed Norrin where we lived and then showed him where I was going. Not only does the map help Norrin with the States, but it gives him a sense of where we are.
Show them where you work.
Norrin has been to my office several times and he likes being there. And I’ve also taken Norrin to his dad’s job. Norrin knows where we work – it’s not some imaginary place. When we tell Norrin that we’re at work, he knows exactly where we are. I think knowing creates a sense of security.
Create a visual schedule.
Many children with autism respond well with visual schedules. They like to know what’s next. By creating a visual schedule, you can let your child know when they can anticipate seeing you again. AutisMate is a great app that allows you to create a personalized schedule.
We talk about time a lot. While Norrin doesn’t understand the concept of telling time – we tell him what time we’re doing things. We show him the time on the clock. On nights when I work late, Joseph tells Norrin what time I will be home.
Make time for Face Time.
Modern technology helps families stay connected. When I’m away, I schedule a time to Face Time with Norrin. He doesn’t stay on for long but he gets happy seeing me.
“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”
In the digital age, photos feel like a thing of the past. But I keep family photos in Norrin’s room so that he sees us. Sometimes a picture in your child’s pocket can be the comfort that they need.
Promise a special treat.
Whenever I travel, I always promise to bring a little gift back for Norrin. Nothing extravagant – even a peace of candy will make him happy.
Does your child experience separation anxiety? What do you do to help them work through it?