Separation Anxiety for Nannies

Even if you have been caring for a child since birth, suddenly, at some point after six-months and until they are three- or even four-years old, the child may become extremely upset when their parents leave for work. This common childhood stress is called separation anxiety.

In the March 2010 issue of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter we discuss common childhood fears.
Eighty-nine percent of the in-home childcare providers that took our monthly poll answered that children they have cared for have experienced separation anxiety.
How have you helped children cope with separation anxiety?


  1. DISTRACT the child. Be prepared to play with the child and they will cry less.

  2. My advice is to just not drag it out. When I worked in a daycare center it happened all the time. Parents should kiss the child then say goodbye and leave — that's it. The sooner we can start playing with the kdis the better!

  3. I feel the same way as people above. I get the chldren busy which helps. Not dragging goodbyes out is good too. But the preschool I drop child off at doesn't seem to even try to sympathize with the child. Must respect them and try to comfort them because they are truly upset.Imani Okoro, Miami FL

  4. I agree with the above posters as well.What also would like to add though is something I do when they get a little older and we have started to learn how to read clocks. Classes that they go to start at certain, times so do library story times, and even when my day starts and ends. I hve taught them to learn to know where we are at each day just by glancing at a clock. Down to when we need to be ready to go out the door by. That toy clean up happens 10 minutes before a snack or meal. etc.This very very important when I had young charges of parents going through a divorce who faced constant seperation anxiety. After they understand the schedule (and we kept a paper desk calendar too) the anxiety eased up.

  5. I just don't want the mother to think the toddler is crying because of what I have done. We hear so much about is the child happy when you leave her with the caregiver? I hope parents realize seperating anxiety is a normal stage of life.Tammy SlaterJuneau, Alaska

  6. Keeping to achedule helps. Being prepared with activities to distract kids is a good idea. Play peek a boo a lot to try to teach them what you don't see may still be there.– Shoshanna Levy Greenwich, CT

  7. When it comes to parents leaving for work, the quicker the better. Don't drag out the drama.

  8. In my case, we determined that I was giving too many mixed messages by trying to persuade him ("But all your friends are there, and you're going to do an art project") and staying with him at drop off time to ease the transition. The message to him was that maybe the decision was his, that I was considering staying with him instead of leaving. Now, when he complains, I say firmly, "I'm sorry you're sad, but it's time to go now. You will have fun." When I drop him off, I say, "I have to leave in 3 minutes!" "It's time for me to go, but so-and-so is going to take good care of you. I'll see you after lunch." He seems a LOT more content since we started doing this. He can tell it's not a negotiation, so he spends less time in anxiety mode trying to work it. I know it's hard to walk away from that pitiful sad-face but I wouldn't worry too much about the momentary dramatics. By Vanessa GalloKeller, TX

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