When Your Child Leaves Home

We normally think of children as the ones who suffer from “separation anxiety” – the panic that occurs when one is left by another. However, this phenomenon happens to parents as well as to children.

Moms who have to return to work after the birth of their babies may feel the pain of separation even more than the infants. Sometimes parents stay home with their infants and toddlers so that the first separations occur when the child is the one to leave for camp, playgroup or school. Little kids may cry and cling to their parents on these first excursions from home. However, parents may inwardly be doing much the same. After the child boards the bus or enters the building, Mom may find a private spot to shed her own tears. Many mothers find it hard to let their children attend out-of-town school. Giving up their ability to nurture their youngster on a daily basis can be hard. However, the hardest separation for parents to bear is often the one that occurs when a grown child leaves home for good.

Saying Goodbye
It is, of course, a good thing that children grow up and leave home. No one wishes for their child to stay at home forever. However, the fact that it is healthy and appropriate does nothing to lessons the upset for parents. Many mothers have very positive, close relationships with their older teenage children of both genders. When the child moves out, he or she will have adventures and experiences. If the child is moving out into a marriage, then he or she will have a new intimate companion and a new life. It is the parent who is left behind.

Marriage being what it is, it sometimes happens that the relationship one has with a grown child is closer, less conflicted and happier than the one that a person has with her own spouse! When this happens, the grief of “losing” a child is all the more intense. In fact, this is one reason that couples should always nurture their relationship to the utmost – to ensure that they HAVE a relationship when their youngsters move out to form their own. However, even if the marriage is fine, some women will enjoy a mother-child relationship that is quite different from the marital relationship; it may be fulfilling, satisfying and gratifying in a completely different way. When the tight bond is severed by travel, school or marriage, the mother can experience deep grief.

It is not uncommon for people to anticipate the loss ahead months in advance. Some women literally lose sleep over the thought of the loss of their child. Intense anxiety can occur in those who have been prone to anxiety in their lives. Depression can affect those who are prone to depression. Losing a child – even to good causes – triggers the old vulnerabilities and unfinished business of adults.

Coping with Loss
The first task in coping well with loss is to allow oneself to feel the pain. Becoming busy and distracted only prolongs the suffering. There will be time for extra projects later. When painful emotions are acknowledge and allowed, they float away. Just as a good cry clears up blocked emotions, listening to one’s own heart allows the heart to heal. There are many ways to begin this process. Talking to friends about grief is not the best way, since most people will want to talk you out of your feelings (“Don’t worry – soon you won’t want her back!”). Instead, keep a temporary journal. In it, write down – very quickly – your thoughts and feelings about your child leaving home. Do this for just a few minutes each day. The quick writing helps to get to your deeper feelings instead of staying on the calculated surface of the mind. Another exercise you can do is visit a counselor. The departure of a child can trigger many other issues – why not clean them all up now? Learning and using Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can be a very fast way to relieve the grief. Look for a local practitioner, book or course on this subject, or research EFT online.

Being compassionate towards yourself is essential. Of course this hurts. You’ve put your heart and soul into raising this child and you’ve invested endless minutes and hours for his or her well-being. Why wouldn’t it be monumental for the young person to now walk out of your life? Of course, many children don’t walk too far – their parents will still talk to them daily and/or see them often. And yet, it will never be the same. Honor the parenting journey by allowing yourself to feel those feelings at the end. You’ll free yourself up to feel the joy of the next stage of this awesome journey.

Child is Anxious

Childhood anxiety is very common. Small children – infants and toddlers – routinely show fear of strangers, new places and people, animals, loud noises, the dark and many other things. Most of these fears will melt away by the time a child is five or so. However, some children will continue to experience significant amounts of anxiety because they are “anxious by nature.” They have inherited “anxious genes.”

Fortunately, there are many new techniques available to help anxious kids (and adults!). We’ll look at one in this article – an  intervention called “WHEE” which stands for Wholistic Hybrid of EMDR and EFT. For those unfamiliar with these names of psychological treatments, WHEE can also stand for Wholistic Healing Easily and Effectively.

WHEE is a self-help technique. A parent can learn it and teach it to their child or they can take their child to a psychological practitioner who is familiar with it. Parents can learn all about WHEE at www.wholistichealingresearch.com where it is explained in depth by its developer, psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Benor.

WHEE Basics
Here is an introduction to the WHEE method. Try it on yourself first. Once you see how it can help calm and relax you, then teach it to your child.

  1. Think of something you are worried about. Rate how worried you are about the issue between 1 and 10, 10 being “extremely worried.”
  2. Fold your arms across your chest so that your right hand is resting on your left upper arm and your left hand is resting on your right upper arm. This is called the “Indian Chief” position, or the “Butterfly” position. You will be tapping alternately on your arms, left/right, left/right, left/right throughout the treatment (one tap on your left arm, followed by one tap on your right arm, repeating continuously for about 30 seconds).
  3. Close your eyes and start your alternate tapping. Say, “Even though I’m worried about (name your worry in as much detail as you possibly can), I know I am a good person (and God is with me and will help me). Include that last bracketed phrase if you believe it to be true. Continue tapping and worrying for about 30 seconds.
  4. Keeping eyes closed, put your hands on your lap and take a deep breath in and out. Let your energy settle. Notice what thoughts, feelings, sensations and images are coming into your awareness. If you have more worry than before, or there is a new disturbing thought, or you are less worried but still worried, start at step 1 and do all 4 steps again. If all the worry is gone, tap on your lap (left/right, left/right, etc.) SLOWLY, for only about 10 seconds, stating a positive thought as you are tapping (i.e. “I know it will be fine” or “God will help us through this” or “I feel calm and confident” or any other positive thought that now comes to your mind. Pause after 10 seconds of tapping and then repeat another 10 seconds with the positive thought. Finally, do one more round.

WHEE for Everything
A parent can help a child using WHEE for a phobia. For instance, suppose you are going to be visiting people who own a dog and your child is terrified of dogs. Before you go, you can ask the youngster to picture the dog and feel the fear. While he is feeling the fear, guide him through the WHEE steps, until he feels calm and confident.

A child may be anxious about an examination or test. WHEE can reduce the anxiety to zero. A child may be afraid to stay alone in his bedroom. WHEE can make the monsters disappear! WHEE can be used for any sort of distress such as sadness about a friend moving away, a pet dying or parents divorcing. WHEE can be used to help reduce anger, jealousy and overwhelm. It can eliminate all kinds of fears – such as the fear of public speaking, first time experiences, being away at camp and so on.

Once a child knows how to help himself with WHEE, his confidence will soar. He’ll have instant healing whenever he needs it – right at his fingertips!

When Your Child is Homesick

Home is where the heart is. When kids leave home – for a night, a weekend, a month, a school year, or for good – there are often mixed emotions. Excitement, fear and sadness are common feelings but may be confusing or even overwhelming for the youngster who is experiencing them. How can parents help their children negotiate departures most comfortably? How can they help them through the pain of homesickness when it occurs?

The pain of leaving home has different sources for different children. Let’s look at three common origins of this type of sadness:

1. Leaving home for camp, school, vacation and travel means dealing with change. One is thrust out of one’s familiar, cozy, home environment and thrown into a new, different place. Kids who have trouble handling change will naturally have some level of difficulty in adjusting to living away from home because of that factor alone.

2. Leaving home also means leaving a place of security and familiarity. Children who tend to be fearful in general will often feel separation anxiety – the fear of being alone, separated from everything they know and love.

3. Leaving home for the first time is like any other “first time” experience; initially challenging and somewhat anxiety-provoking for almost everyone.

These three issues – difficulty handling change, general anxiety and the challenge of new experiences – require three different types of parental interventions.

Difficulty with Change
Some kids want to come home because they are having trouble being out of their familiar environment. If your child is like this, you can help prevent homesickness in the first place by helping your child become as familiar with the new environment as possible before he or she actually goes there. For instance, taking young children to see their new classroom before the first day of school helps the place to become somewhat familiar even though it is a new place. Taking children to see the hospital in preparation for a stay there is a similar concept. Sometimes, however, the child cannot go to the new location. In such a case, picture books or internet video clips might be employed to illustrate the general idea. There are, for instance, video clips of children preparing for surgery and recovery in a hospital – these clips show everything from the admitting desk to the surgical room and more.

Offering your child the Bach Flower Remedy Walnut can help foster an easier adjustment to change. Walnut is specifically indicated for those kids and teens who have a hard time with changing circumstances. Two drops in a little liquid, taken four times a day in the weeks before the change can help make the transition must easier and more comfortable. You can find more information on the Bach Flower Remedies online and throughout this site.

If you have not been able to prepare your youngster for leaving home, you can help him adjust to change by sending along some familiar items (i.e. a favorite pillow, some family photos and so on). Once in his new location, it may be helpful for the child to be able to communicate with you frequently at first, simply to help ease the transition. As the child becomes more comfortable in his or her new surroundings, less communication will be necessary.

Allow your child to express his or her unhappy feelings. “I don’t like it here,” “I don’t like the food here,” “I don’t know anyone here,” I want to come home,” are all legitimate feelings. Acknowledge and accept them. “I know Honey. Yes it’s hard. Yes, it’s different. I understand.” Refrain from telling the child that he will soon get used to everything. Let that happen by itself. Also refrain from rescuing the child by bringing him home. He needs to master the experience of change. “You’ll soon be home again,” is enough – respond calmly to the child’s anxious and stressed state. Don’t offer too much reassurance, but instead convey through your calm responses that you believe in the child’s ability to handle the difficult feelings. “I know it’s not easy.” Say it sympathetically and just leave it at that. If the child is quite young, try to arrange for extra adult support. “Aunty Sara will let you sleep in her room for the first few nights.” Little kids need more help in adjusting to new environments. When they are given that help, their adjustment tends to be smoother. This is also why some nursery school classes allow parents to stay with a child for the first few days – or even weeks – of school. Gradual transitions to separation are easier on small children than sudden separations. Similarly, younger children do better with shorter stays away from home. It’s normally very hard on a four year old to be away from parents for more than a couple of days. Eight year-olds may be fine with two weeks away at camp. Fourteen year-olds can usually handle two months away with no problem. However, don’t be surprised to find your eighteen or nineteen year old child experiencing homesickness in College or other places away from home. They, too, can be bothered by the change or the separation issues.

Difficulty Separating
Children with separation issues need to build up their ability to leave home. If possible, help them to make short excursions before more lengthy ones: arrange for them to sleep over ONE night at Grandma’s house. Staying with familiar people helps in the early stages. Build up to two nights away, a few days, a week or two and a month – try to do all this before sending this kind of youngster off to college in another city. If you haven’t done this or if it hasn’t helped, and your child is painfully homesick missing YOU and the family, then it’s fine to help the youngster by providing as much communication as possible until he gets used to being away. For instance, there is no reason to avoid daily telephone calls or frequent texting (unless the child is at a camp that forbids this). Eventually the child will settle into his new environment and not need or want that much contact from you. Use some of the comfort strategies suggested above for kids who find change difficult – bringing familiar things from home can help at least a little.

The Bach Flower Remedy Mimulus can help reduce the pain of being away from loved ones. Give as described above for Walnut.

Again, it is important to help your youngster succeed at staying away. Bringing him home early should be avoided unless the homesickness is so overwhelming that the child is not functioning well in his new environment. Even an older teenager can be brought home if homesickness is interfering with his functioning – sometimes, he just needs one more year or two at home. People do develop at different rates. During that time, it would be wise to arrange brief separations as described above, in order to help prepare the child for a lengthier separation in the near future. Keep in mind that one 13 year-old is ready to leave happily to a boarding school while another is beyond miserable at the thought of being away. Your child is an individual who needs individual attention – there is no one right way to respond to serious homesickness. Do what feels right for you and your child. However, if a child is young (under 9) and homesick, go ahead and bring him home if it is possible to do so – he’ll do better with separation when he’s older.

The Stress of First Time Experiences
In order to reduce feelings of homesickness that are occurring due to the fact that the experience of being away is new, help prepare the child for the experience as much as possible. Use the strategies suggested above for kids who have difficulty with change.

Sometimes there is no time to prepare a child. A youngster might suddenly require hospitalization, for instance or he may have to suddenly stay at a relative’s house due to a family emergency. Explain what is happening in as much detail as possible. “Mommy and Daddy have to fly to New York for Grandad’s funeral. You will be staying with the Gold’s until we get back. We’ll be gone for four days. We’ll call you every morning to say good morning and every night to say goodnight before you go to sleep. You will have breakfast, lunch and dinner with the Gold’s. You will also have a bath there one night. I am sending your clothes and your school books. You’ll go to school as usual and they will pick you up afterward…” Giving the child all of this information can help him cope with the novel situation with less stress.

However, the child may still miss his home and his parents. Again, allow him to be sad – his feelings of homesickness are perfectly normal. Let him know you understand. DON’T try to talk him out of his feelings – the fastest way for him to feel better is for him to be able to say what he feels. Young kids can be encouraged to draw pictures for their parents or pictures of their feelings. Sometimes art is a better medium for the expression of their feelings than words.

For children who are feeling homesick, the Bach Flower Remedy Honeysuckle might help. When there is nothing else that can be done, go ahead and offer two drops of Honeysuckle in liquid four times a day until the child is feeling better – or until he is returning home!

When Your Older Child Has Separation Issues

Separation Anxiety is a distressing syndrome that can affect anyone of any age. It occurs in some people when they will be “left behind” or somehow left on their own. A secure attachment figure will be out of close range and the person with anxiety feels unable to cope independently. For example, adults can become anxious when their spouses must travel out of town. Twenty-year-olds can become anxious upon leaving home for college. Ten-year- olds can become anxious when their parents go away for a week. And toddlers can become anxious when their parents drop them off at playgroup for the first time.

No matter the age of the person experiencing separation anxiety, the feelings will be similar; panic, alarm, helplessness and even desperation. Adrenalin surges through the body causing stomach upset, weakness and/or palpitations. Sleep may be disturbed or impossible. During an episode of separation anxiety, a person can sometimes seem to be totally out of control—crying, raging, clutching, running or otherwise “losing it.”

School-age children can experience many types of separation anxiety. A child in grade 5 who has never been anxious before can suddenly show intense fear at the beginning of a school year. Kids who are 7, 8, 9 or 10 can become anxious if they are alone in a part of their family home: alone in the basement, for example, or alone on the second floor of the house. Some children of this age or older will be anxious if they sleep away from home or go away to camp. A child of any age can become highly anxious at having to deal with parents’ leaving home for a few days or longer. Teenagers with separation anxiety can suffer intensely when they must travel or otherwise be apart from their parents.

What Causes Separation Anxiety?
Normal babies may develop separation anxiety after they first experience an overwhelming separation. For example, a one-year-old child whose parents just returned from a week long vacation may become very clingy and attached for some time. However, school age children have already experienced many separations since their infancy. When they now experience separation anxiety, it is not from the novelty or inexperience of the situation but rather from an internal anxious process that now manifests. In fact, the tendency to experience separation anxiety is most commonly found in children who have other forms of anxiety as well. The fearful child–one who develops early phobias of clowns, doctors or doggies—is frequently found among the sufferers of separation anxiety. The worried child who thinks deeply and ruminates about many dangers or anticipated difficulties is also a candidate for separation anxiety.  The obsessive child (the one who has to have things and/or routines “just so” or otherwise goes ballistic) is also often found in the anxiously separated group. In this group, too, we often find the “sensitive” child. Traumatized children with genetic vulnerability (the inherited tendency to become anxious) can develop separation anxiety as part of a post-traumatic stress syndrome. For instance, a child who suddenly loses a parent to death or divorce, may develop separation issues for the first time.

Becoming panicky over separation is a tendency inherited in the genes. Anxious genes run in family trees and the saying “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” is easily applied to anxious children. Almost always, the parents of anxious children recognize anxiety in themselves or other close relatives, although the form it takes may be different from their child’s anxiety. Depression genes run closely with anxiety genes, so that some families have a mixture of the two conditions running throughout various family members.

How to Help Older Children Deal with Separation Anxiety
Parents find it challenging to deal with intensely anxious children. The child’s fear of separation can seem irrational and actually irritate the parent. “Stop following me around!” a parent might shout in exasperation, “I’m here in the house with you. You’re safe!” Or, the parent may try to talk to the child of anxiety: “Don’t worry. You’ll get used to being at school/at camp/at college. Soon you’ll be happy to go.” Or, “I’ll be home in just 2 hours/2 days/2 weeks. It will be fine. There is nothing to worry about.”  The urge to be rational in the face of irrationality is almost irresistible, but should be resisted anyways. Facts do nothing to diminish anxiety because anxiety is a biological process in the body running through the brain and cells, triggering chemicals and processes that have nothing to do with “reality.” Anxiety hurts. The body/mind need soothing, not information. Therefore, a more practical intervention is to support an anxious youngster through episodes of anxiety. Parents can do this by gently but firmly insisting that the child deal with the separation rather than avoid it and use coping tools to reduce the pain and discomfort of anxiety. When parents try to solve the problem by helping the child avoid the issue (i.e. the parents cancel their weekend vacation or they withdraw the child from camp), they inadvertently increase separation anxiety. Anxiety spreads. When avoidance is used as a coping tool, the anxiety not only persists, but it actually worsens over time. Therefore, painful as it is, parents must help children go through the separations that they fear. However, they can do this compassionately as we’ll see below.

Naming and accepting the child’s anxiety with the tool called “Emotional Coaching” (see Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice by Sarah Chana Radcliffe for a detailed descriptinon of this techinque is helpful, particularly over time. “I know you’re worried/uncomfortable/upset/scared/etc. You want to stay home.” The key to emotional coaching is to refrain from using the word “but” in the middle of a sentence. Rather, put a period at the end of the sentence that acknowledges a feeling. You can continue with a fact afterwards: “I know you are scared and unhappy. You want me to stay home. I’ll be back in two days.”

The parent can then give the child strategies to keep adrenalin in check. For instance, the parent can give the child a comfort stone (or small, smooth rock or crystal that the child can stroke, sleep with, travel with, hold, etc.). The parent can consult an aromatherapist to get an appropriate essential oil that calms the nervous system and show the child how to use it. The parent can take the child to a therapist to learn special breath techniques that turn off adrenalin or energy psychology techniques that reduce anxiety and panic. A child therapist may have a range of psychological interventions that can help a child overcome or manage overwhelming separation anxiety. Bach Flower Therapy may be employed to help reduce the tendency to be anxious in general and to eliminate separation anxiety in particular.

The parent’s attitude is important to the child’s recovery. Parental confidence that all is well, safe and good has a powerful positive impact on the anxious child. Parental anxiety, on the other hand, increases the child’s anxiety. Sometimes the parent must seek professional assistance in order to reduce his or her own anxiety in order to help the child.

Because anxiety is an inherited condition, it can wax and wane throughout life. Giving kids the tools to deal with their anxiety is therefore an enduring gift, helping them to reduce pain and discomfort and achieve their highest potential.

Separation Anxiety: When Your Child is Clingy

Anyone of any age can experience separation anxiety. Adults can become anxious when their spouses must travel out of town, sales for example. Twenty year olds can become anxious upon leaving home for college. Ten year-olds can become anxious when their parents go away for a week. And toddlers can become anxious when their parents drop them off at playgroup for the first time.

Whoever it affects, viagra separation anxiety is a painful condition. Feelings of fear, helplessness and even desperation overtake the sufferer. Adrenalin surges through the body causing stomach upset, weakness and/or palpitations. Tearful or rageful panic attacks may occur. Sleep is disturbed or impossible.

Separation Anxiety in Toddlers
Babies may or may not experience regular separation from their parents. Some parents practice attachment parenting, sleeping with their infants and carrying them on their bodies during the daytime. These babies may not experience separation until toddlerhood, when they first go off to a babysitter, playgroup or nursery school. Some babies experience regular separation from their first days of life, as parents tuck them into a crib in a room of their own each night and/or leave them with other caregivers during daytime hours.

Separation anxiety, however, seems to have little to do with experience. Some kids cry bitterly at separation the first time they experience it and consistently from then on. Others are upset the first couple of times they experience separation, but then permanently adapt. Others are fine for the first couple of years and then, seemingly out of nowhere, begin to experience intense distress upon separation. Some who never had a problem in their preschool years suddenly develop a bad case of it in grade school. Some children experience anxiety when they first go to school simply because they aren’t used to being away from home. Research shows that the average child makes a happy adjustment to school somewhere between the ages of two and a half and three and a half. This means that a particular child may be extremely anxious at age 2 simply because she is not developmentally ready for separation. This same child will be fine at age 3 and never experience separation anxiety again. So sometimes, the trick is to help the child separate at the right time for him or her. Of course, this isn’t always optional; sometimes the parents’ work schedules require early separation whether or not the child is ready. Some children will experience separation anxiety no matter how old they are when they first separate. They can be 3 or 4 or 5 and, if this is their first major separation, still experience tremendous anxiety. The tendency to experience this kind of separation anxiety is most commonly found in children who have other forms of anxiety as well. The fearful child–one who develops phobias of clowns, doctors or doggies—is frequently found among the sufferers of separation anxiety. The worried child and the obsessive child (the one who has to have things “just so” or otherwise goes ballistic) are also often found in the anxiously separated group. Ditto for the “sensitive” child.

Becoming panicky over separation is a tendency inherited in the genes. Anxious genes run in family trees and the saying “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” is easily applied to anxious children. Almost always, the parents recognize anxiety in themselves or other close relatives.

How to Help Children with Separation Anxiety
What does a parent do when her toddler clings to her in terror on the way into the classroom? Kind teachers like to peel these children off their parents with reassurances “don’t worry, he always stops crying as soon as you leave.” However, the parent is scarred by the piteous cries of the youngster begging to go home. Even if the child does recover moments later, the last sights and sounds the parent experiences are gut and heart wrenching! Parents often leave the parking lot in tears themselves.

At the beginning of the school year, the parents can give their toddler a few days to see if he calms down and settles into the school routine. Sometimes, it just takes 5 to 10 days for the child to feel comfortable in new surroundings. Painful as it is, the parents must leave at some point- but it doesn’t have to be right away if the school permits their presence. Staying for at least twenty minutes to help the child settle in may be helpful. But eventually, the parent must say good-bye. Sneaking out is not advisable, as this can increase anxiety. The child learns that the parent can suddenly disappear and this causes even more fear. Rather the parent should say good-bye, mention where he or she is going and what he or she will be doing (“Daddy is leaving now. I’m going shopping for milk and then I’m going to be working at home and then I’m going to come back and get you for lunch.”). Then the parent must leave. This routine can be repeated daily for a couple of weeks. Most often, the child will get used to the new environment and soon stop being anxious. However, the anxious child does not respond this way. The tearfulness and terror can continue for weeks and months, never improving one iota! If the child is under three years old, it may be preferable to leave her at home with a caretaker. When she is older, she can try school again. Eventually, of course, most children will have to go to school. Home-schooling an anxious child is not a cure for anxiety. Home-schooling may be undertaken for any number of reasons. However, as a treatment for separation anxiety it is a disaster, because avoidance increases, rather than decreases, anxiety. In other words, solving the problem by having the child avoid the problem, actually causes anxiety to persist and increase. Assuming, then, that the anxious child must eventually go to school, parents need some tools to help themselves and the youngster cope.

One important tool is knowledge: parents need to know that anxiety diminishes when it is faced and conquered. Therefore, sending the child to school daily, acting firmly and calmly, is a very helpful treatment. The parents must not panic themselves! They can take the Bach Flower Remedy called “Rescue Remedy” in order to help themselves stay calm in the face of a flailing, desperate youngster. They can also give this same remedy to the child herself because it can often reduce anxiety and/or turn off the panic attack/tantrum. Bach Flower Therapy can also be used to help the child overcome the tendency to be anxious in the first place. In this case, a consultation with a Bach Flower Practitioner can be helpful. Health food stores normally carry Bach Flower Essences. The Remedy Mimulus is particularly helpful in reducing separation anxiety.

Sometimes older children experiencing school anxiety call home daily with “tummy aches.” Parents who come running to rescue the child are only maintaining the child’s anxiety and stress. They, too, must learn to calmly and firmly help the child face his or her anxiety (assuming that a doctor has ruled out medical causes of that tummy ache!). The parent’s calmness is contagious. The parent’s confidence that all is well and safe and good has a powerful positive impact on the anxious child. Parental anxiety, on the other hand, increases the child’s anxiety. Sometimes the parent must seek professional assistance in order to reduce his or her own anxiety in order to help the child.

When these measures are not enough to help a child overcome panic and separation anxiety, parents can consult a mental health practitioner who specializes in the treatment of children’s anxiety. Early help can prevent needless years of suffering for the whole family.

How to Soothe Your Cranky Baby

Babies have very clear personalities that are evident from the moment of birth. Some are so calm and easy-going. Some look and sound mad. Some look worried. It’s possible that their individual journeys down the birth canal have affected their mood and disposition but their genes also play a major role. Psychologists now say that at least 50% of personality is present before parents have a chance to have an impact on their kids. As any parent of more than one child knows, each child is different.

Babies Impact on Their Caregivers
Babies have a strong impact on their parents. A relaxed and placid, cooperative baby makes the parent feel the same way. Such a baby inspires parental confidence even if this is the first child. Parents of easy-going, content babies feel successful as parents and this makes them actually like their baby even more.

Tense, irritable, crabby babies make their parents feel that way too! They make their parents feel helpless, inept and inadequate. This causes them to be somewhat aversive to their parents – after all, we tend to shrink away from people who make us feel like failures. Although it’s not the baby’s fault, parents can’t help but feel resentful toward an infant that refuses to be soothed or comforted. They try everything they possibly can, but still the baby remains unsettled and unhappy. After months of this kind of cycle, parents can feel distressed, burnt-out and detached from their infant.

Loving Difficult Babies
There is no trick to loving a cooperative baby. There is a BIG trick to loving a more challenging infant. With non-responsive babies, parents must remind themselves that gentle handling and patient care-giving DOES make a difference to the child. Difficult babies are stressed from the inside. When parents provide a soothing, confident handling from the outside, the experience does impact on the child’s nervous system. Agitated handling creates more agitation for the infant; calm handling gets recorded in the infants brain and its impact accumulates over time, helping the child to develop in an optimal way. Since parents cannot get immediate feedback from the baby him or herself, they must give THEMSELVES positive feedback instead. Every time you hold your difficult infant, actually tell yourself “I am doing therapeutic parenting. It is so good for my baby. It will help him/her in the long run.” By rewarding yourself verbally (and in any other way you want to!) you can help your own body and mind resist the stress of a (temporarily) thankless child.

In addition, make sure to engage in other activities that DO give positive feedback. Take breaks from your baby in order to do what you enjoy doing and what you feel successful at. Use a babysitter frequently in order to give yourself time to replenish your energy so that you can continue to give love to this baby without exhaustion, resentment and strain.

Seek social support, therapy, alternative stress relief and any other intervention that can help strengthen and nurture you because your baby needs you. You must undo the effects that the baby can have on your nervous system and continuously restore and re-balance your system.

By looking after yourself, you’ll be doing the very best for your baby. This is true for every parent and all the more so for parents of challenging babies.

Baby Not Meeting Milestones

Not all babies have read the Big Book of Baby Milestones. As a result, erectile some of them take their sweet time about meeting normal developmental milestones. While the “normal” infant may have several teeth by 12 months of age, buy cialis the “different” baby may cut her first tooth well into her second year. While “normals” sit up between 4 and 6 months, pharm the “independent minded” baby may not sit till 9 or 10 months. Some “free thinking” babies never crawl (they just start cruising one day); some don’t utter a word until their third year; and some don’t walk until 18 months or beyond.

Milestone Madness
This is all fine and dandy, except for the angst it causes parents. What is it like to be taking your baby to a mother-baby program and find that only YOUR baby isn’t eating solid food yet? How does a parent cope with the puzzled looks and insensitive interrogations from well meaning friends and relatives (“WHAT? She doesn’t walk yet? What does the doctor say?). Can parents just shake off the constant innocent but hurtful mistakes of strangers (“Oh, I thought he was just very large for his age….”). How do parents reconcile the differences between what the books say and what their baby does? How do the parents sleep at night?

Individual Differences
Smiling, rolling over, clapping hands – whatever the task – individual babies perform it when they are ready. Most often, differences in attaining particular developmental tasks are simply differences. Most often, they do not indicate that something is wrong with a baby. However, the best way to attain peace of mind is to bring your questions and concerns to your child’s doctor. If the doctor feels that the delay in question might require intervention or further investigation, he or she will refer you to an appropriate specialist. If your doctor feels that all is well, then you can just sit back and wait until your little “individual” decides to perform.

Treatment Required
Should you discover that your baby’s delay is actually a symptom of a condition requiring treatment, then the next step is to provide that treatment. Sometimes a gym class will be suggested, or a physiotherapist or perhaps an occupational therapist or a speech therapist or some other kind of specially trained professional. Again, most children who require extra help soon become indistinguishable from their peers who got there a little quicker or on their own. Sometimes, however, your child’s delay is a symptom of a disorder that will affect your child long term. In such a case you will experience many emotions before you can just settle into providing the special services or therapies that your child may require. Since this is the least likely scenario, however, it is important that you don’t put yourself through all of these emotions out of worry and anticipation. Save them for if and when they ever become appropriate to the situation. In other words, don’t worry about your child’s development unless your doctor gives you a definite cause for concern. Even then, help yourself alleviate undue anxiety and suffering by availing yourself of professional guidance and support at the same time that you tend to the needs of your baby.

Staying Steady
Babies thrive best in the arms of confident, relaxed parents. Always try to think positively about your child. If you have questions, let your medical team give you answers. Avoid catching hysteria from spouses, relatives and others by quoting your doctor frequently. Provide whatever help is called for and then sit back. Your prayers for your child will provide comfort for you as well. And remember: children are always individuals who march to their own drum. You might as well get used to that idea from the very beginning.