Nicki's Note: How to Deal with Separation Anxiety While Trying to Raise a Brave Kid

September’s almost come and gone; it’s notoriously one of the most trying months of the year for parents, rife with separation. Maybe your baby is getting shots, you're going back to work, they are learning to walk, transitioning to bottles or food—or maybe you’re dropping your little one off at daycare, pre-school or kindergarten. September always arrives with lots of change in tow.

We get it. It’s a challenging time for everyone.

Earlier this month, I brought my oldest to second grade. My internal dialogue went like this: You’ve got this, he’s going to be fine. He was so fine last year, everyone is just fine. Fast forward to my little boy, looking around his classroom, somewhat smiling at the other kids and looking at me with a clear but unspoken message: Don’t walk away.

What do we do? My favorite line is on repeat, as other parents share their consoling looks,  “As soon as you leave, they are fine!”

I look around and everyone looks so calm and collected, but inside all I can think of is his racing heart. I feel the fear and I want to run. I want to snatch him up and tell him, we are out of here. Grab your bag, kid and I’ll drive!

I am fully present in those moments and everyone but me seems to have themselves together. They know this is normal, fine and mandatory. The clichéd statements are supposed to be soothing, but they aren’t. I negotiate with myself, saying everyone else knows best. But somehow my head hasn’t caught up to my heart.

I’m stuck.

With two little boys fully in school now and countless moments on the playground, at doctor’s appointments, in sports and meandering through all of those life milestones that bring about separation, I can tell you what I am learning.

The danger is not allowing them the space to be afraid.  

Being able to teach your child that they are strong and capable, because they are loved is a great gift. They need to jump and then realize the ground was hard as hell, but they are okay. What they are going through might not be okay, but it will be okay. In this lesson they learn to be vulnerable, humble, confident, generous and passionate.

When you allow them space to be uncomfortable they are forced to learn about themselves; they may find that they are charismatic, shy, fearful, daring, smart, anxious or brave. Whatever they learn, they need to know it. It’s a beautiful gift that comes from distancing themselves from us—learning to lead themselves.

Now, as a parent, I am grateful to my family’s countless attempts to teach me how to navigate the vast and unforgiving challenges of life. You don’t want someone to not have early lessons of heartache, otherwise they won’t feel equipped later when they inevitably need to face adversity.

How did you learn to be thoughtful? I can’t imagine that it was someone asking or telling you to do so. You probably experienced kindness when you needed it.

How did you learn to be vulnerable? Probably in a moment when you desperately needed to be honest with yourself and someone else. You asked for help, knowing you might not be able to return the favor immediately.

You cannot be comfortable and courageous at the same time. Which would you like to teach?

I hope you find solace in the fact that we, as parents are learning to give distance to our children, learning to distance ourselves from them in little ways. They, meanwhile, are learning to connect to the world and discover who they are. It is a beautiful gift…and you still get to cuddle them until they are teens.

Xo Nicki

 On my playlist today, Lauren Daigle, Rescue found here


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