Notice: All forums will be retired as of May 31st, 2016 and will not be archived. Thank you for your participation in this community, and we hope you continue to enjoy other content at

HELP - Separation Anxiety

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from memes98. Show memes98's posts

    HELP - Separation Anxiety

    My DD (28 months) has all of a sudden developed pretty bad separation anxiety.  It all started a few weeks ago when we traveled and she wanted me to do everything, and not even her Daddy could help take her out of her car seat.  That got better when we got home, but it has still continued to a certain degree.  She has also wanted her pacifier a lot more when we are home.  She normally only uses it for sleeping, but she knows where we keep it in her room and wants to be upstairs a lot lately and I think it is because of wanting her pacifier.  I am working on scaling it back again to using it just while sleeping.

    The worst of the separation anxiety happened this week.  She normally goes to daycare 2 days and MIL watches her 2 days.  Well Monday at daycare she was wailing and crying when I dropped her off (this is not normal), and they called me two hours later to say she is still just standing at the door and crying for me.  They tried a bunch of things to distract her (go for a walk, etc.), but it wasn't helping.  This was very out of charachter for her, so they thought she might be sick.  So, I did go pick her up from daycare that day.  Then Tuesday she did the same thing at drop off, and still had a rough day (refused to eat anything at daycare and crying off an on), but it helped that her cousin is at daycare on Tuesdays.  So, she made it through the whole day at daycare.

    Does anyone have any advice?  She has usually been a very easy going kid.  I have this fear that we are going to keep having trouble with daycare.  I feel for the teachers because it must be hard to deal with a crying toddler all day and they have to give her more one-on-one time while still trying to take care of all the other kids.  CT-DC, any thoughts?  I think she is going through a stage where she is really missing me, and then I was home with her for 5 straight days last week over Thanksgiving.  But, I am not sure if this will just pass on its own.

  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from cwagner13. Show cwagner13's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    I am not sure if this helps, but if I recall, you are pregnant now, right? My son at 20 months or so got very Mommy oriented and we attributed to his sense that I was undergoing all these changes due to my pregnancy at the time. He would not even let DH touch my belly, he would be very territorial about me. We had decided to establish some things that were fun and only with DH like outside time. I wonder if you can get your MIL or DH to have things that only they do and are fun. It does not solve the issue with daycare though... but our daycare teachers told us it was really normal for kids to get clingy to their moms even with three year olds when their mom is pregnant (we have a lot of siblings in the daycare we use and lots of pregnant moms going in and out with their other children).

    How verbal is she? Do you think she has sensed the changes in you or in how others treat you? DS is almost 25 months and we have found we can talk in simple terms on some issues that bothered him, like how sad he was when his favorite babysitter had to go home or how scary it was when he witnessed his baby sister projectile spit up on me. If she is pretty verbal, you may want to see if she is scared or sad by something.

    If it is pregnancy related, it did phase out for me especially once my belly got big and I could not keep up with him, so if you find it is related, it may help her if you can get her to use simple words on what her concerns are. 

  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from luvRIboy. Show luvRIboy's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    I second cwagner about the pregnancy factor, or if there are other changes going on.  It amazes me how sensitive kids are to things, even when we don't talk to them about it.  DD was more clingy during points in my pregnancy, and now at 25 months, she is going through another mommy phase, this time related to competition with her baby brother.  I've noticed it most around my dad, who is without a doubt, DD's #1 person...before DS arrived, if my dad was around, I didn't even exist, but since the baby came, if I'm there with the baby she wants to stay with me...if the baby's not there, or if I'm not there (when my parents watch the kids), she'll happily be with my dad. 

    I would talk to her about it...are there things you can do to make her more comfortable?  My sister used to carry a pic of my mom with her to pre-school, and that helped, since she could always look at her...maybe something like that? 

    I think it's about this age that they seem to notice people being missing in a way that they hadn't before...before it was out of sight out of mind, but now, she's realizing you're not there and wanting you.  Makes me think of an episode of Daniel Tiger (clearly I watch too much PBS!), where Daniel doesn't want his dad to leave him at school and they talk about how he'd be back! 

    Good luck!  I know my heart aches whenever I hear either of my kids cry, so even the thought of her at the doorway wanting you kills me for you. 

  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from memes98. Show memes98's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    Hmmm....I hadn't thought about the pregnancy issue, since DD doesn't seem to notice yet.  We sometimes talk about mommy having a baby in the belly, but nothing more.  But, maybe I don't realize how much she really understands.

    We also got her big girl bed over the weekend, but she is not sleeping in it yet because I don't have the sheets, bumpers, etc.  She does like going to it and hanging out to read books and roll around though.  Now this has me wondering if that could be a factor too.

    And yes, I definitely need to have DH spend more alone time with her, and I may have him do drop off on Monday.  She definitely spends the majority of time with me.

    I tried to talk to her last night about how Mommy will always be back to school to pick her up, and that school is fun.  I don't know how much she understands though.  On the ride home and when we first got home she kept saying "(DD name) cry Mama"....meaning she was crying for me.

  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from KMMZ1012. Show KMMZ1012's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    Have there been any changes at daycare? DS was a wreck at drop off (and he's older than yours by about a year) after new teachers/helpers were installed in the room.  We came to find out later (through many, many ongoing issues and meetings) that one of the teachers in the room wasn't the best fit for the class.  She was making not just DS, but the other kids anxious.  As soon as she was moved to a different room, the drop off issues tapered off.  It's been like a different kid.

  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from clc51510. Show clc51510's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    It might help your DD if you can find a way to quantify how long until you'll be back in a way she'll understand.  When I was younger if my mom said "I'll be back this afternoon/later/in a few hours" I struggled with how long that actually was and would often have a hard time.  So she found a way to put it into terms that I understood: the length of time it takes to watch Punky Brewster (silly and dating myself, I know). So then when she said "I'll see you in a little while" I would always ask "how many Punky's?".  Thinking of it that way helped me quantify how long she would be away for.  My preschool teachers caught on to this and could update me when I asked "only 2 more Punky's until your mom's here". It's a silly little trick that worked for us and maybe could work for your daughter too.

  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from medfordcc. Show medfordcc's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    My heart really goes out to all of you - it's so tough on everybody.  Lots of good suggestions on here, but I would enthusiastically second talking about it when it's not happening.  Maybe a book?  Although I don't have any to recommend.  I think it also has a lot to do with vacation (assuming she was with you a lot on vacation) and then being off for Thanksgiving (again being with you a lot) - it's hard to transition back after so much nice time with you.

    Also taking CLC's suggestion (love the Punky's!) - I try to tell DD when I'm coming back in terms of the routine.  Like, "you'll have breakfast and then play and then lunch and then nap and snack, and I'll see you after snack" or whatever.

    Another thought about the baby / big girl bed and whatnot - I think my DD also senses something is going on, and I have been telling her a lot how she'll always be my baby, and holding her tight giving extra kisses and snuggles to my "bitty baby".  Sometimes she says, "no, I'm a big girl!", and sometimes she says nothing (or says, "do that AGAIN!"), but she always looks pleased.  I'm sure you're giving her tons of hugs and kisses, but my DD seems to get a little boost from being reminded that she's my baby and I'll take care of her.  Maybe your DD is sensing the tension with becoming a "big girl"?

  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from rama8677. Show rama8677's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    Memes, my DD went through this same struggle at 30-32 months.  It was right around when my DD#2 was born and I attributed to that but I actually think it may have just been a phase she was going through.  She has been going to the same home daycare since she was just a little baby and hadn't had a problem with drop off in over a year and one day just started crying in the car on the way there, and wouldn't stop crying all through the ride and during the drop off.  It was so sudden and odd and lasted for a few months and then - poof- went away and hasn't come back.  Assuming nothing has changed at daycare, my best advice is just to hang in there and hope it's a phase.  You could try finding a book about dropping off - we have Llama llama misses mama which is pretty good and I echo an above poster who recommended that show "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" - on PBS.  It has an episode all about this very thing with a little song "grownups come back" that my DD loves to sing.

  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from KAM2007. Show KAM2007's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    Nothing more to add for suggestions. But wanted to offer up a big ole hug!

    When DD was about to arrive DS was transitioning to preschool and he was sooo excited. He was officially a big kid! Maybe play up the new bed. Maybe that helped distract him that we were super excited about his big kid status and all the stuff he got to do. But that was when DD's arrival was imminent.

    Tranistions back from vacations/holiday breaks can be tough. you both will get through it. Maybe when you have DH drop her off they can do something special on the way-special breakfast, something speical they do together.

  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from CT-DC. Show CT-DC's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    I don't have much to add: I do know my teachers SWEAR that the toddlers get different when their mother is pregnant, even if it's only a few months along and we don't even know - like they have a 6th sense or something. 

    I bet it's also because of your vacation time together as a family - we had quite a few children having a hard drop off on Monday after Thanksgiving weekend. 

    Otherwise, just keep trucking and eventually it will stop.  I'd say that crying for 2 hours is pretty extreme, and I know that's why you're concerned.  I'm hoping next week will be better - I'd agree to have your husband do drop off this week at childcare if he can, because she might have an easier time separating from him and that will make her day better. 

    Also, I'd find 1 or 2 things that she does with "just Daddy" AND I'd also make some limits about how much she can 'boss' you both around about insisting on "only Mommy."  So, for example, if Dad is going to do bedtime, bath, books with her and she insists, no, Mommy - do you give in?  If Dad refills her cup or plate at dinner or snack, and she cries and only wants Mommy to do it - do you give in?  And the list goes on. 

    While I do think parents need to be flexible, and a few of those instances aren't a problem, and when on vacation you do anything to keep the peace for the whole family, it also gives a 28 month old an incredible amoutn of power that she doesn't need to have over 2 adults.  So choose wisely.

    I think you and your husband want to talk about those things, and come up with the scenarios that are common and decide TOGETHER, right NOW, not when they are happening, what you will do.  For example: it's fine around bedtime because she's so tired she can't deal anyway, but if it's about refilling a cup then you will insist. Etc.

  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from Micromom. Show Micromom's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    Oh, separation anxiety can be rough on everyone.  I think most people are right about the age, and transition, this too shall pass.

    One thing worth considering is that it may not be just  your little one, but you having some anxious feelings.  When I was pregnant with my second, I did feel a bit of angst about how the first one might feel neglected, or some melancholy about the end of that period, or just plain exhaustion from taking care of one and carrying another.  Any of those things can contribute to even very subtle behaviors, or indulgences/accommodations that can turn into bigger problems.  

    Now is a good time to get the older one used to working wth other people (especially daddy), so the transition can be smoother for everyone when the baby arrives.

  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from ml2620-2. Show ml2620-2's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    Memes, I am so sorry, I know how it rips my heart out to walk away from my daughter when all she wants is me, I'd have quit my job and moved in to a cardboard box if I had to hear about 2 hours of crying at daycare.  

    Our girls are about the same age (August, 2010?) and DD went through what I call a baby adolesence for about 6 weeks where there was some reversion, she wanted (and still wants) to be treated like a baby, cosseted and swaddled and fussed over like a newborn, especially when I first get home from work. She wants me to wrap her in a blanky and hold her sippy for her like a bottle.

    I've taken it as being about these huge leaps she's made lately with language and growth and skills lately, that sometimes it freaks her out a bit and she wants to be a baby again, and just wants Mama all the time.

    Not sure if this is worth anything, I just don't want you getting upset over this somehow being the start of sibling rivalry. She might just be feeling overwhelmed by all the changes going on in her mind, heart and body. You guys will get through it with a plan and extra love and kisses and time when appropriate.

  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from memes98. Show memes98's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    Thanks all for your thoughts and suggestions.  It really helps me to just talk about it and hear other's opinions.  Some of the teachers at her daycare did swap rooms recently, but that was a couple of months ago.  Do you think it would take this long to manifest?  I really like her teachers, but I guess I don't know if DD does or not.

    And CT-DC, you are absolutely right about putting an end to the "Mommy Do's." I absolutely agree that we need to stop her from bossing us around, and I will admit that I would often give in to her requests/demands.  I am going to try really hard to stop this from happening.  Last night she wanted me to brush her teeth instead of Daddy, but I told her that Daddy was going to do it and she just opened up her mouth!  She usually puts up a big stink, so that was a big improvement.  I am sure her reactions will be hit or miss as we start to really enforce this.

  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from lissafro. Show lissafro's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    even before we told anyone I was pregnant with my second my first was grumpy-- most likely because I was exhausted and puking and grumpy myself all the time.    Once the news came outshe understood what was happening and seemed enthusiastic but she had a bunch of potty accidents for a while.  good luck!

    There are a LOT of great kids books about having siblings.  Maybe getting some from the library and slipping them surreptitiously into the reading rotation will help.  Making it seem coincidental will probably be more effective than barraging the kid with baby books, though. 



  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from misslily. Show misslily's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    AARRGGHH! Mommy do. Mine is now refusing to go potty with Daddy when she wakes up in the middle of the night. He actually came and woke me at 1:00am the other night. "She wants you." I wanted to kill them both! Although I understand not wanting to deal with a full blown tantrum in the middle of the night, I was so tired and Daddy was actually still awake working on a research paper.

    So - take care of it as soon as possible so you don't have what I have when she's three! :)

  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from memes98. Show memes98's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    Just wanted to post an update.  DH dropped DD off on Monday and she was actually worse....I think because that meant she didn't see me at all that morning.  Only positive was that it showed DH how hysterical she was....I'm not sure he really understood that it was a real problem.  I talked to her teacher that day and she suggested I leave a family photo at school.  I was skeptical about the photo because I thought it might make the separation anxiety worse, but I was willing to try anything at that point.  Well yesterday I dropped her off and left the photo.  She still cried at drop off, but not the really bad wailing she had done the last few times.  Then daycare called me later in the day to say that she was doing really well!  The photo seemed to really help because when she was sad she liked giving kisses to mommy!  She finally was willing to eat lunch, nap, play with her friends, sing songs, etc.  Here's to hoping this continues...

  17. You have chosen to ignore posts from CT-DC. Show CT-DC's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    WHAT a great idea, Memes, kudos to your daughter's teachers.  Now that she's had this one semi-positive day, it will only get better and better and in 2 months you will forget you even went through this.

    OR, it could be she's like one of the little boys we have, who has been attending our center since he was 5 months old, and is now 21/2 yrs old, and he still cries EVERY morning at drop off - doesn't matter if Dad or Mom do it, it's all bad.  And it's been bad since he turned 10 months old and it's the same amount of crying every day.  Poor guy.  'The only thing that "works" is that a teacher takes him in their arms and holds him until he's better, which takes about 15 minutes.  When one of his teachers (his mostest favorite teacher) leaves in two weeks, it's going to be ON with him - I dread this. 

    And his mother is due for her 3rd baby in mid February - when his baby brother/sister is born it's going to be EVEN WORSE.  I double dread that!

  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from KAM2007. Show KAM2007's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    Memes-our center had family pictures up all over the kids rooms. And the teachers tell us how DD goes to our pictures and gives us kisses all the time. Can you also leave a lovie that smells like home/you there? Something else she can hold when she feels sad?

    In DD's room (1-2 year olds), the teachers will wash all of the kid's blankets at the center. I take DD's home for two reasons 1) so it will smell like home and 2) these teachers are so busy they don't need to be doing my laundry.

    Do you have the opportunity to play with her for a few minutes before you leave for the day? Perhaps having her start to draw a picture and ask her to finish it and show you when you come to pick her up. Tell her you'll stay to draw a picture and after X happens you'll leave. Set the expectations early and stick to it. Tell her how excited you are to see how she finishes the picture.

    Is hunger an issue? is she able to eat before you leave for school? we've given DS the Cliff Kids Organic bars-sweet enough to peek interest, but still have some redeeming value to them. That and some milk in the car helps fuel him up so he's not so cranky-then full breakfast at school.

    Good luck.


  19. You have chosen to ignore posts from memes98. Show memes98's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    KAM - Thanks for all the suggestions.  We tried leaving her a stuff animal, but it didn't seem to help.  She does have a pacifier there though, which I have told the teachers they can give her if they think it will help.  I will try playing with her next week at drop-off, but when this separation anxiety surfaced there really was no way to get her to play.  She was just screaming and clinging to me.  So, hopefully she will keep improving and I can try some of these strategies at drop off.  And I will look for those Cliff bars.  She does usually sip her milk in the car, but I haven't done food in the past because I was just relying on daycare to feed her.  All good ideas!

  20. You have chosen to ignore posts from ml2620-2. Show ml2620-2's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    What about slapping on some lipstick and kissing the back of her hand? A kiss to last until you get back? My grandmother used to do this for me, and I loved it.

    CT - I can't imagine allowing my kid to crying every single morning at drop off, that makes me ill just thinking about it. Hope the mom can stay home once she has her third. 3 kids in 2.5 years? That sounds so sad for that little boy.

  21. You have chosen to ignore posts from IPWBride. Show IPWBride's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    Not sure if your center does this, but mine has a cereal cart for anyone who comes in before 8am.  They do a warm breakfast at 9:30.  The cart is great... if the kids don't want it, no big deal.  But with my DS, he loves cereal and every single day goes straight to the table to sit down and gets a bowl of cereal.  Its a nice schedule for him, he knows what to expect, and often times a few of his friends are also sitting their eating as well.  It allows the kids to focus on something other than their parents leaving them.  When DS is sitting down with a bowl of Kix in front of him, he kisses me and waves me off like "see ya mama!"

    We still get a ton of "Mommy Do" however, and its tough.  Makes my husband sad sometimes, and I encourage him to tell DS that, now that DS is starting to understand sad and happy.  Yesterday DS pushed me and I told him that made me very sad, like the cow in the Wishy Washy book.  He said "sorry mama."  I was shocked!  It won't be the cure-all for everything... but it may help when they only want one parent.

  22. You have chosen to ignore posts from CT-DC. Show CT-DC's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    Actually, her oldest is 41/2 yrs old, her second 21/2 yrs old, and due with a 3rd in Feb.  So not that close together.  Her 2nd child is young from a social/emotional point of view - he's been speaking about 6 months ahead of his age since 10 months of age (no kidding) but he cries at the drop of a hat, can't handle change or transitions (like the fact that he's dropped off at a different time every morning - I've tried to get the parents to understand that they really should drop him off at the same time every day, but that is not to be), and is very sensitive.  But, yes, he does cry at drop off every single morning, and he loves his teachers and the school after those first 10 minutes each morning.  He has good friends in the classroom, etc.  It kills his parents.  You should have SEEN the transition from the infant to toddler room - we actually stopped the transition after the first week and tried a month later.  That 2nd time around it was just as bad and took 3 weeks before he wasn't upset most of the day.... usually we do a 2 week transition but his transition nearly killed us all. 

    And, no, she won't be home, the baby will be at our center come summer time.

  23. You have chosen to ignore posts from framerican51008. Show framerican51008's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    Memes - That is so touching that having your photo and giving you kisses made her feel better!!

  24. You have chosen to ignore posts from cwagner13. Show cwagner13's posts

    Re: HELP - Separation Anxiety

    memes, that is great that the photo is helping! DS's class is set up with each child having a cubby they can reach, and each cubby has family pictures (it is funny to watch his classmates race DS to his cubby to help him get his stuff out at pickup).

    CT-DC - that is sad to hear that the child has so much difficulty with changes. We had noticed that dropping off the same time helps a lot (we usually try to time it with food - Mondays at lunchtime and the rest of the week at breakfast, and that seems to work well). We did watch one part timer (who only comes Tues and Thurs) cry for like 10-15 minutes at each drop off for the entire time the child was in his room and I had wondered if the fact that it is just two days a week made it so much harder - she was also late to start daycare (starting at 18 months).

    Even though I was home on maternity leave, we decided to keep his routine the same and requested the daycare do not attempt any transitions during this time to reduce the stress and that seemed to work for him.