Create a goodbye routine
The most poignant and painful moment of parting is saying goodbye. If you’re ever tempted to sneak away from your child at parting, don’t. “You have to say goodbye,” says Schiller. “If you don’t, there will be a great sense of betrayal and loss for your child.”
Give a kiss, a hug and reassuring words. Have your toddler choose toys to bring to Grandma’s house or the spot where you will share your goodbye hug, so she has some measure of control over the experience. Quite often, Schiller says, a child will cry bitterly as a parent leaves, only to start playing happily 30 seconds later. Check in with the school if you have a tearful goodbye to fi nd out how your tot is faring.
Even after your toddler has gotten used to daily partings, there will be times, out of the blue, when she’ll melt down as you leave. Try not to interpret regression as a problem. “Grabbing your leg is a sign of how much your toddler loves you,” says Goldstein. “So hug your child back! You can say, ‘I just love you so much I’m going to give you a big squeeze! And I can’t wait to see you later.’ Try to be cheerful and loving.
You know those images of people embracing a loved one who’s going on a long trip? Your toddler grabbing onto you is the same positive expression of connection,” says Goldstein. So savor these tender moments. Soon your child will be happy (or even oblivious!) when you leave.
Nicole Gregory is a writer and editor who lives in Los Angeles with her husband and 10-year-old son.