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How Can I Help My Toddler With Separation Anxiety?

My 2-year-old screams and cries when I drop her off at day care every morning. How can I help her adjust to being away from me?
- Liz

Most kids this age experience feelings of distress when a parent leaves them. These emotions usually stem from worries that a parent who leaves may never come back.

As difficult as it might be, resist the urge to run back at the sight of tears or to have a long, drawn-out goodbye. Instead, establish a goodbye ritual that is pleasant and consistent, yet firm. Stay calm and reassure your daughter that you will be back. Tell her when you will return in terms she can understand, such as after her afternoon naptime.

Most kids calm down quickly and begin to go about their daily routines after parents leave. Sometimes it helps to leave a cherished object (like a favorite blanket or doll) your child can use for comfort while you're away.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: July 2013