And suddenly, that baby who all family used to carry, no longer wants to separate from its mother, even for a single moment. Leaving the baby at home has become a real problem because, every time you leave the house, he cries inconsolably. It’s now, more than ever, that your child needs your empathy because he is experiencing the anguish of separation that comes from the emotional attachment to mom or dad.
Usually, between the eighth or ninth months of age, the baby generates an attaching bond to its closest caretakers. The little ones begin with the anguish of separation or fear to strange people, known as the famous “mamitis” or “papitis” in Spanish, which means extremely emotional attachment to one or both of its parents.
The extremely emotional attachment could be to parents, grandpas, aunts… it depends on whom the baby has created the affective bond because a baby doesn’t have developed the maturity of object permanence. That means that the child does not know “if the person who takes care of it, will return”.
Babies suffer deep anguish when mom or dad have to go away. “It is a natural stage in children’s development, and it’s cyclical: it comes and goes. The child will get rid of it when it is able to internalize that its caretakers are going to leave, but also, they’re going to come back”, explains psychologist Coral Casarín Morfín, development advisor from Proyecto Dei Association.
How to support your children
During this stage, babies need a lot of patience from you. You shouldn’t tell them “If you misbehave, I’ll leave you with this lady”, making reference to someone the child doesn’t know. Also, you shouldn’t let unknown people (for them), take care of them. For example, the aunt or the cousin that they have never seen.
In stressful situations, a child will need that the adult gives it certainty and security to accompany and contain it emotionally. Usually this attachment will be developed to mom and dad.
“If your baby is in an extremely emotional attachment stage, the expert recommends to breathe deeply. Breathing will allow us to distance ourselves and be in our balance and, as adults, be able to help our child when it has a moment of anxiety”.
When a child is protected by a supportive adult relationship, it learns to face daily challenges, and its defense system against stress goes back to its set point. Scientists call this as positive stress, according to the Harvard University Child Development Center.
Parents also need to take care of themselves: “a mom or dad that do so, will take care of its child too. A mom or dad that keeps calm would be able to calm its child”.
Carol Casarín Morfín, development advisor from Proyecto Dei association.
Don’t hide away!
Hiding any time you want to leave home, so your child can’t see you, is not a good idea. Many parents do this so the baby won’t cry or suffer, but if you use that strategy all the time and you “hide” without letting it know, the child will be anguished, explains Coral Casarín.
The parenting expert recommends to tell the kid that you’re going out, but you are going to return; it is basic to do so because this will help the baby understand what’s going on. “Letting the baby know is a preventive medicine”. You could say, “I am going to the doctor; I’ll be back later. When I´m back, I´ll hug and kiss you”.
A baby would not understand about temporality, that is, the time and space location. So, you can make it a graphic calendar with pictures or drawings so it could know what is going to happen during the day and, it could go better through the separation anguish stage.
During the attachment period the baby will cry, and it is not a tantrum, but anguish. Little by little the child will learn to trust, and that will only happen watching you return. Slowly the child will become self-sufficient and independent.
What else could you do during this development stage of your baby? Other resources to go through the attachment stage are to find moments of concentrated attention and specific time playing with your child.
Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara
Spanish version: Here