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January 10, 2019

How to approach separation anxiety and letting go the Montessori way

separation anxiety

Separation anxiety or letting go are harder for the parents than for children.

I never wanted my children to cry when they were little. I wanted everything to be perfect for them – I still do. I thought I was the best person to do everything for them.

Letting go and separating from our children is hard. If they cry when we tell them we are leaving them at home so we can run errands, must mean they are telling us to stay?

It is our job as parents to guide our little ones to become independent and to be separate from us:
The first period of separation anxiety is usually expressed between 8 and 16 months where our child is learning object permanence. You can practice this with your child by going to the bathroom and close the door and coming back. The importance of attachment cannot be underestimated. A strong connection and trust must be established from a very young age. 

Letting go means having other people in their lives

It is common to think you are the only one who can look after your child. Even with a supportive partner most moms do the feeding, bathing, settling, and rocking the baby and all the other things. We spread ourselves thin and end up feeling like we are a terrible mother.

The Montessori approach is so much more relaxing. Instead of trying to make my children happy, become their guide.With different people having different approaches our children are learning to trust in others as much as their own family. 

Letting go means selecting people we trust to care for our children. They learn to have trust in others, and themselves.

Letting go is allowing your child to take risks

By letting them take some risks for themselves to climb higher they start to listen to their own bodies and make judgments themselves of how capable they are.We stand ready if they need us, but allow them to explore their limits.

Letting go is supervising, not abandoning

Sometimes Montessori is mistaken for giving children free reign without supervision. Give your child a lot of independence, choice when possible, and access to the things they need. Try to be available to guide them. Also remember they are independent. But they are not grown up.

Letting go must always be age appropriate

As a toddler, help with dressing, allowing your child to take over more and more steps. Allow them to venture further away from you in the park.
Help your child to scaffold skills so that over time they become more independent. Letting go means building skills in our child.

Letting go means being able to say ‘goodbye’ confidently

Children are so observant. If we feel comfortable in a situation, then they will learn to trust our judgement. Give them confidence in the people they are being left with.

They may get separation anxiety and cry and say “you are leaving.” But they will learn that others care for them too. And that their parents always come back.If we fearfully sneak to the toilet or out of the house without telling them, they may also be scared as they search for us and cannot find us.

Letting go means communicating honestly with your child so they know what is going to happen.

Letting go means constantly discovering who your child is, not who we think they should be

Letting go means seeing them for who they are, right now, in every moment. Not controlling it. Letting them be on their own journey with you as their guide.

Letting go means letting them make mistakes and learning from them

It’s hard to see your child suffer. But To get it wrong, and learn from their mistakes is vitally important. 

Letting go means not trying to fix things for them, but providing some guidance and support in difficult moments.

I truly believe that we are better parents when we fill our own cup – not from our child, or our partner, or our work, or approval from others.

To be happy in our own right, ready to support and be the guide your child is looking for. Letting go and watching your precious children fly.

Celia Jacobson crafts bespoke teepees for children.

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