Preparation is the key to soothing separation anxiety, Elizabeth Pantley says. Some of her tips:
FOR BABIES AND TODDLERS
Play peek-a-boo: Babies learn that things can go away and come back.
Practice quick separations: When the baby is relaxed, walk into another room briefly.
Help the child bond with a blanket or toy: A "lovey" is comforting in your absence.
Don't sneak off when the baby is asleep: The child may panic when he or she awakes.
Ask the caregiver to distract rather than console the child: Too much fuss can make the baby feel more unsafe.
Come to the rescue if your baby is crying in someone else's arms: Otherwise the child may resist the next separation attempt.
FOR PRESCHOOL AND SCHOOL-AGED KIDS
Give advanced notice and details about the time apart: Kids feel more secure when they know what to expect.
Dress up as the babysitter beforehand: Play-acting can make the event seem fun.
Create a prayer to help the child cope: A rhyming verse can calm a child's fears.
Don't says things like "don't worry": This plants worry seeds.
Teach relaxation techniques: A child can self-soothe with deep breathing when anxiety hits.
Don't force a child to attend sleepovers or birthday parties without you: Given time, most children outgrow separation anxiety.