Short, positive goodbyes help develop routine

Published 2:26 pm Wednesday, December 17, 2003

By By Sonya Rogers
Many children experience some type of separation anxiety during their infant, toddler, and pre-school years. Christmas holidays will soon spark this behavior for little ones who stay home for a couple of weeks and then return to daycare or preschool. For most infants, leaving a parent or family member is difficult, especially when being placed in the arms of a stranger. For instance, many children attend daycare where there is typically a low retention rate of employees. This shift in personnel can prove to be traumatic for a youngster who demands security and a sense of familiarity in his or her surroundings.
When toddlers experience outbreaks of tears and sometimes tantrums as their parents exit the building, this behavior becomes frustrating for both the parents and the caregivers. Parents must remember that this behavior is normal for this particular stage of development. Infants are not really old enough to fully grasp the idea of parents "going and coming". This concept is too complex for little ones at this stage in their life. Therefore, caregivers and parents must learn to work closely together to make transitional experiences more tranquil.
Most children stop crying and settle into a normal routine shortly after their parents' departure. However, it is important for parents to make their goodbyes short and positive. As children grow older, they will better grasp an understanding of the word change. Some circumstances that often trigger anxiety are: (a) a change in family status, (b) a new caregiver, (c) a new child attending the school setting, or (d) an illness. Therefore, caregivers and parents must pay close attention to unusual behavior and monitor children's behavior patterns on a regular basis. In addition, games, books, and videos can often serve as effective tools for enhancing successful progress for most children during this vulnerable stage of their life.
Sonya Rogers is an independent columnist for the Atmore Advance and reports on educational issues. She may be reached by e-mail at

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