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Sometimes a parent (usually Dad) spends time with the child before leaving for work.

However, after leaving, sometimes, the child cries nonstop (1 to 2 hours). Everything you offer during this period is refused, and there is a fixation on (whoever left).

What are some ways to handle this situation, knowing that favorite toys (even new, stocked up toys) etc are refused?

Is it better for Daddy to leave in the morning without being seen?

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How old is the child? – Péter Török Jan 14 '12 at 19:19
Say between 2-4 – bobobobo Jan 14 '12 at 23:23
Excellent question and answers. We're facing the same where out child has separation anxiety for over a year now – shinynewbike May 20 '14 at 9:57
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Part of your job as a parent is to introduce realistic expectations for your child when the world does certain things. Mommy, Daddy or both will probably need to be inaccessible for protracted amounts of time in order to work, even if one or both don't leave the house to do so. I kind of think 'vanishing' dodges that, at any age .. but we all lose idealism when our kids get really upset.

Depending on the age of your child, books like this one can help a bit, but what works the best (if your child has reached the age of conversation) is not excusing your absence, but explaining it. Turn on a light switch, for instance and explain that if you don't go to work, the light might not work for very long. Take out a box of pancake mix, make some and explain that if you did not go to work, there might not be so many pancakes. Then involve your child and let them come up with ways to help you go to work, or vanish in your home office for hours.

The trick is not to instill some sort of trepidation in the child, they should not be worrying about your job, so take special care to discuss work related hiccups when your child is not around. Make it a positive thing. Tell your child how what you do makes something better, talk about your work friends, bring home random office supplies as gifts and make it a point to introduce 'special' events when things go well at work.

Again, this depends entirely on the age of your child, but I'm quite sure bits of it could be adapted to fit your current problem :)

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WOW, there's a whole book on that.. thanks – bobobobo Jan 14 '12 at 23:22
What do you mean by "vanishing"? – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jan 16 '12 at 10:05
@TorbenGundtofte-Bruun Deliberately leaving the house at a time when the child won't notice. – Tim Post Jan 16 '12 at 11:11
Yes avoid vanishing at all costs. Kids have to learn that you leave sometimes but that you are true to word and come back. – OliverS Jan 23 '12 at 13:00

First of all, do not sneak off. I simply cannot stress this enough. I may sound 'sky is falling' but it's absolutely true that doing so regularly could lead to abandonment issues. You have to say bye, and he has to know it's coming and he has to get used to it.

I think the sitter should start with routine. Soon as you're out the door, it's time to start the morning routine. Not food, cuz that's just asking for a mess, but something interactive. Maybe reading, playing with blocks, drawing, whatever. and the sitter should do that REGARDLESS of the kids interaction. if the kid is crying, remind them every minute or so... "come on down from there and lets read this book."

of course, you'll get the arched back and the painful screaming because all they want to do right now is cry. "Daddy's gone to work, he'll be back later. but we have a puzzle here we can work on."

that's my suggestion. none of my kids ever did this, but i've known those that did.

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Well, I don't mean sneak off, but make sure to leave without waking them up. – bobobobo Jan 16 '12 at 18:15
Don't leave without saying goodbye unless the they truly need the sleep. – morah hochman Jan 17 '12 at 15:57
This answer is exactly what I would do, I can't up vote it enough! – morah hochman Jan 17 '12 at 15:57

First, it depends on the child's age and maturity. I think the parent can preper the child for what is about to happen by narrating the near future in a way the child can understand. for instance: "mommy will play with you now, and then mommy will give you a big hug and three kisses and will go. you will stay with daddy, and when it is dark outside mommy will come back"

it is important to follow the narration as closely as possible, and to keep reminding the child what's coming up next. e.g "now I go, I will come back when it is dark outside".

when children know what is going to happen they become more secure and less anxious.

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Separation anxiety in children is a function of our culture. In other societies where the child is raised within a large group, and care is often passed on from one family member to another, the child rarely reacts to the absence of a parent. It's a fairly easy Google search to find many anthropological studies that reflect this.

The lesson we can draw from other cultures is the value of introducing your child to many other people. You can setup play dates for times when daddy is not home, or go out for a different social activity. This way you can allow the child to view the father going off to work not as a scary loss, but an opportunity for increased interactions.

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I have 3 Children , a 6 year old daughter , and 8 year old daughter and a 7 year old son . he 6 year old holds the anxiety towards mommy leaving . I find that letting her know whats happening hours before she leaves ( Gymnastics with my other 2 children , she has a class by herself a different day ) is the best way to soften the blow . She still cries when they all go which is understandable , I ignore the cries for a little while then I suggest some activities that keep her busy . The anxiety has went down a lot since I started this

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When my little girl started nursery (daycare) I was told to give her a hug/kiss and say goodbye to her and tell her I'd be back later. As others have advised, I always explained to her where I was going and that I would be coming back. Then when I came to pick her up I'd show how much I'd missed her and cuddle/kiss her.

This was advice given by the nursery staff. I know it's not exactly the same as your situation, but she now loves going to nursery and is aware that I have to work (she will so "mummy gone to work") and rarely cries when I leave her unless she is ill.

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I have found that taking my 18 month old son out to the car with daddy when he is about to leave relieves the issue. I hope this helps :)

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What works for us is to set expectations far ahead of time.

in the evening: Tomorrow is a work day, daddy will leave for work before/after you have had breakfast (or whenever). He will be back tomorrow night by dinner time.

In the morning: I will leave soon/after breakfast, today is a work day. (repeat, countdown). I will be back by dinner time.

REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT. Set expectations.

Point out differences when not working: Tomorrow is not a workday, I am not going to work. I am going to be home all day/I am going to run errands in after lunch/etc

Again, set expectations, and do not think because they understood yesterday means they understand today.

If someone has to leave for business travel, we talk about it days ahead. Every day we repeat that mommy/daddy is not home tonight, and when they will be home.

Of course it is important to try and do your best to live up to these expectations.

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