April 25, 2022

Ask Amy: My Kid Has Serious Separation Anxiety

Many of us have had the drop-off experience where our kid cries and just won't let go of us. How do we help our kids through separation anxiety and make them understand that we don’t go poof when we leave for work?


The discomfort and distress of a child experiencing separation anxiety can be hard to hear. The best responses are consistency and a heavy dose of reassurance.

A listener recently posted in our Facebook group:

My just-turned-4 year old has started experiencing separation anxiety both when going to preschool and when staying home with our regular babysitter . (My husband and I both work from home and I don’t know if it’s worse for her to know we are there.) On school days she says she feels like she’s going to throw up, then they call us to come get her. On days we are working from home, we end up having the sitter leave because she is sobbing uncontrollably.

Another factor: she has two older siblings. When they are also home, she is not anxious about their all being left with a sitter. I did not experience separation anxiety with my older two kids at this age. We are trying to be compassionate and reassuring but we also need to work during the times she is in care, so we need to fix this soon. I need your ideas and strategies! 

Separation anxiety is a phase that many kids go through when they start spending more time away from their parents at school or daycare. Amy has some strategies for helping your little one understand that no, crying and screaming will not make you magically appear to pick them up, but yes, you will indeed come back for them at the end of the day.

Amy references this book in this episode: The Kissing Hand

and this song: "Grownups Come Back"

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