Tearful, tantrum-filled goodbyes are not uncommon in early childhood centres.

Children can become distressed when they see their parent leaving: it’s called separation anxiety and it’s a normal stage in child development. But, it can be unsettling. Considering that most adults wouldn’t relish being thrust into a room full of strangers on their own, not knowing what’s going to happen, and being told to ‘have fun”: it’s quite understandable young children don’t like it either.


Babies adapt more readily to different caregivers, so they don’t display anxiety when a parent is absent (provided their needs are met). But, from 4-7 months a child begins to sense when mum or dad are absent and can become upset. Then, from 8 months on, children are becoming more independent, but at the same time more uncertain about being absent from caregivers.

Some children go through separation anxiety later (18 months to 2.5 years), while others never experience it. How long separation anxiety lasts depends on the child (and how the parent reacts!). In some cases, it can last until the child is at school.

Handling Separation

  • Practice being apart from each other, and introduce new people and places slowly. Plan to be apart for short periods so that your child can get used to it.
  • Try to leave your child with the same person each time until they are settled.
  • Try not to leave your child when they are tired or hungry.
  • Be calm and consistent when leaving. Create a ritual or routine around leaving with reassuring words and tone of voice. Don’t just disappear. Give your child a warning and a few minutes to prepare. Explain when you will return in terms the child will understand (like after lunch).
  • Give your child your full attention when saying goodbye. Don’t sneak off.
  • When you say you’re leaving, mean it. Delaying will only make it worse.
  • Make sure you return when you say you will (don’t be late!). This is how your child will develop confidence that they can make it through the time apart.

As hard as it is to leave your child, with them screaming and crying for you, it’s important to have confidence that their teacher can handle it.

By the time you reach your car, your child is likely to have calmed down and be playing.

If you feel that you need a quality Child Care & Day Care near Mt Wellington for your child’s great start in life, feel free to contact us at 573 1293.

image credit to the owner