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One of my goddaughters has anxiety, she's already taking medicine for it and even had ticks caused by anxiety until they adjusted her medication. They live a few states away and so while I visit as often as I can there will be some time between visits.

She loves my visits, but struggles after I leave. She will tell her mom she misses me and wants me to come back, and can end up in crying fits over missing me. It's bad enough that her mother has debated rather we should cut back on the visits due to how poorly she handles the next sever days after a visit.

This is not your traditional separation anxiety. She doesn't struggle too much with saying goodbye, and doesn't fit many of the diagnostic criteria for Separation Anxiety Disorder. Separating from me is fine, it's the next few days after where she tends to have meltdowns and struggles with my being gone and begging for me to come back to visit.

I'm looking for tips on how I can make my visits less disruptive for her, so she can adjust better after I leave.

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    Do you do FaceTime with her when you get home? What do you do to help her deal with it, so we don’t advise something you already have tried? Thanks.
    – anongoodnurse
    Jul 8 at 1:52

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Unfortunately, what happens after you leave is largely out of your hands and a question for the parents to write here. But maybe there are things you or the parents do (unknowingly) while you are there or after you have left that make it harder for your goddaughter? Have you adults talked about it and discussed ideas? There must be other things to try and test before deciding to not visit at all!

Here are a few ideas that you can be an active part of:

  • Prepare your goddaughter before you come and while you are there that you will have to leave again by e.g. talking about what you will do after the visit and also what she will do! If possible, follow up what she has done and show that you care even if you are not there.

  • Commiserate shortly (!) together (=see/anticipate her emotions, tell her about your emotions) but not during the day of farewell but rather during the first day of the visit when you talk about what happened since the last visit. End that short commiseration constructively by talking about how you two can stay in touch and/or what she can do when she feels sad: draw/build/make something for you, write you a letter/postcard etc. Maybe planning the next visit can help?

  • Related: Give her a small task to do or complete after you have left and follow up.

  • Related: Plan a small activity that you two can do remotely. Try it out while you visit. If talking/seeing each other online hurts too much: Asynchronous communication through letters, e-mail etc., to the rescue.

  • If possible, plan for her (family) to visit you. Farewells are usually so much easier mentally for the one leaving than the one staying behind.

  • Maybe you can suggest to the parents to make your visits a bit more normal, adult and boring rather than not visiting at all? Maybe you can visit and just be supportive of the parents, i.e. give them time with their daughter while you do the ground service?

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