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When Parents Feel Separation Anxiety

by Maya Cohen

Separation anxiety isn't just for kids. A lot of parents feel acutely nervous when their child begins school or leaves for summer camp. You may worry about your child's adjustment, or just miss spending time with him. While this is completely normal, there are ways you can alleviate your stress when your child flies the coop.

  • Stay busy. Those two simple words are the key to surviving separation anxiety. Plan ahead and schedule activities before your child leaves, so that you will be occupied in the days after her departure. Even if you don't feel like participating in these activities, go through the motions and allow yourself some time to adjust. Remember how important it is to fill your days, and don't allow yourself to mope around the house. Get moving!
  • Get support from other parents in similar circumstances. Form a club or start your own Mom's Class or Mom's Summer Camp. Get together regularly to have some child-free fun, or just to share how much you miss your kids. Lean on parents who will understand and empathize.
  • Enjoy your time! Think about all the things you always wanted to do but couldn't, because of your parental responsibilities. Now's your chance! Spend time with a spouse, get involved in yoga, take a class, or redecorate your favorite room in the house. Most parents have a running mental list of projects, but never have the chance to work on them. Consider this free time a golden opportunity.
  • Never make your child feel guilty. It's very likely that your child will pick up on some of your nervousness, but try to maintain a positive attitude. Parental separation anxiety often transfers to children and contributes to their anxiety, which will in turn trouble you and lead to a cycle of guilt. Do your best to be enthusiastic and upbeat about your child's plans. You don't want your child to feel apologetic or to regret his leaving, so make sure that you express only optimistic thoughts.
  • Exchange tokens with your child. Give her something that you made, or a small memento that has meaning for you. Explain the significance of this gift to your child and ask her to give you a small memento, as well. This way, when you are separated, you both will have a souvenir for comfort.


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