Subject: toddler behaivor
Question: I have a 19 month old son. He is happy and healty, however when we initially go to another home or place he arches his back and begins crying. He does this when I drop him off at his grandparents home and will do this when we go to his little gym class.
Episode lasts only a few minutes until he becomes comfortable. He seems not to like people to come up to him and get into his face, its like he needs to warm up first. Also we went to eat and I saw this person who I knew at the hostess stand, when she aknowledge my son, he began flailing his arms and crying. I see other children that do not do this. I wish he would understand that mama is not "leaving him". Just wandering your thoughts. Thank you
Answer: Dear Tricia:
It is hard to tell sometimes if toddlers are experiencing separation anxiety or if they are trying to tell you something.
Children set their own emotional boundaries from an early age and different children respond to other people in their own individual manners.
It is important to validate/honor their preferences. Just because you prefer someone company does not mean your child will feel the same way.
If he pulls away allow him to do so. You don't want him to override his instincts do you? These instincts can keep him safe later in life.
As for separation anxiety, reassure him of when you will be back. Don't use time as children have no concept of time until they are about 7 or 8. Tell him you will be back when (insert activity). Find out what activity happens about the time you pick him up and then tell him you will be there after that. Children focus on processes and routines not time like adults do.
Make sure his morning and night routine are consistent to give him a more secure feeling in his world. Feel free to peruse prior messages here which deal with routines and specifically bedtime routines. I highly encourage massage in night time or morning routines as it helps to relax the children and their biological systems.
M Kay Keller