Thursday, May 31, 2007

Adventures in Parenting: Lesson Two

Stranger anxiety is my next big lesson I have been learning about. The girls have entered that stage and it is so sad. From what I have read this is a developmental milestone, so in a sense it is good that they are experiencing this, but very sad at the same time. Stranger anxiety is when the baby learns that he/she is actually a separate person from the mother/father, but it is very scary for them. Last weekend Tom's mom and dad came over and the girls instantly started crying...not just crying shaking and heaving and reaching out for me. Natalie eventually stopped, but Maddie was so upset she just kept burying her head in my shoulder. Then I took them to the store the other day and as usual people kept coming up to us, only this time the girls would start crying every time someone would walk up. After that experience I started doing research and reading up on the topic. That is when I discovered this to be a milestone. I also discovered how to handle it, which has yet to be tested. It is recommended that if a child gets upset then they should go back to the parent to calm down. Then once the child is calm you should sit and engage the child in an activity along with the "stranger" then once the child warms up you should have an easier time either leaving or letting the other person interact with the child. Also, never sneak out of the house if your child is upset because this can cause the anxiety to increase because in their eyes you have just disappeared. You need to kiss and hug the child and tell them where you are going and that you will return. This way they can see you leave and return and they will not be upset. If all else fails know that this is just a phase that they usually outgrow by the time that they are 1 and explain it to your family and friends what is going on, because these situations can be embarrassing for the parent and hurtful for the "stranger" but like they say, "this too shall pass!"