School started last month and yet your little ones are still clawing to you like you are delivering them to a place of intense torment and misery! The teachers have to pry your child off you and you have just discovered that they have superhuman strength. They hold so tight on to you, with those tiny arms and legs, that breaking free of their grip leaves you sweatier than a cardio gym session!
Once you finally break free, and reorganise your clothes, you head to your car walking the walk of the guilty, of the unsure, of the broken-hearted and anxious parent. You second guess your decision to leave them. Every single day. And some days you cry yourself to work/home – the entire drive.
When is this going to get better???!
I’ve had a few parents call me over the past weeks to ask if they are doing the right thing? Are they causing more harm than good leaving them? Should they say goodbye or just sneak away? Does this aggravate separation anxiety?
And my answer is this little scenario…
Imagine you need to have an operation. Your mom is the one who will be taking you on the day and you are very nervous about it. Unfortunately, the day looms and there is no backing out. Your mom arrives and takes you to the hospital. You meet the doctor and it’s time for your mom to go. Which way would you prefer she said goodbye…
- OK my love. (HAND SQUEEZE) The doctor is here so I am going to leave you. (STILL HOLDING HAND) I am sure he’s a great doctor and it will be over before you know it! (TIGHT HUG) It won’t be too bad, you will see, and I will be back before you even realise. (HAND PAT) Good luck my love! Mommy loves you so much! I will be thinking of you the whole time. (BIG TIGHT HUG AND A WORRIED GOODBYE LOOK) Bye…. (SOFT TEARY VOICE)
- Look darling! The doctor is here. He is so efficient – imagine how great he’s going to be in the op! I am going to go and leave you to it. I know you are in great hands and you are going to be absolutely fine. I will be back to collect you when it’s over. I love you. Bye darling. (HUG and KISS)
Which one instils more confidence in you? Which one stills your concerns over the op?
Just let them go.
Say a very upbeat, positive goodbye that reassures them and makes them feel that if you are so happy to leave them and so confident about the goodbye, they must be in a safe place and they are sure to have a fun day. Prolonging the goodbye, giving in to the tears only makes them feel that you are also not sure about leaving them and equally worried, and if you are going to hurry back as soon as possible, it must be a terrible place to be.
So… when the teachers tell you to just say a goodbye and go, trust them. And the answer to “When is this going to get better?” is, as soon as you can confidently leave them. They will pick up on your confidence and soon feel it themselves. You can do this!