Parent-Child Separation

Babies and young children need to have a stable relationship with their caregivers. Sometimes separation, for whatever reason, is inevitable and it’s important to recognize the effects it can have.
*Types of separation:
-Planned (returning to work, holidays, planned hospital stay etc.).
-Unplanned (emergency, breakdown of marriage, death etc.).
 
-If the separation is planned:
If your child is old enough to understand language, you should discuss it with your child, tell him where you are going and that you will be returning soon.
If possible leave the child with someone who is familiar to him, and in familiar surroundings.
Make sure to leave a familiar object/toy with him that will remind him with of familiar things and make him feels comfort.
 
-If the separation is unplanned:
It is important trying to explain what is happening for the child, and if possible taking him to visit the missing person.
** In the case of death extra care must be taken to ensure the child feels safe and secure. Children go through same range of emotions as adults, though they are often left out of discussions and may end up with unpredictable behavior as they often don’t have the intellectual skill to identify and verbalize their feelings.
 
Generally, as children become older they find it easier to separate from their parents for a short period of time. This is in part due to the fact that they have made other attachments, and also they understand they will be returning.
 
About babies and toddlers who have not formed close attachments and do not have intellectual ability for understanding that the parent will return often show signs of distress.
*Below is a general guideline:
-0-6 months: babies are unlikely to show much sign of distress as long as they are cared for.
-1-3 years: they are most likely to suffer from distress when separated from their primary caregiver. 
-Children over 4 are less likely to show signs of distress if separated for short periods of time.
As mentioned before, this is a general guideline, as children’s experiences will have an effect on their reaction to separation. Children who are used to being with other caregivers, and who have been happy whilst there, may adapt more quickly than those who have not. 
It is suggested that children who will suffer from a separation will go through three stages (which is known as distress syndrome):
1-PROTEST (The child begins by crying and shows signs of physical agitation). 
2-Despair (The child is miserable and listless).
3-Detachment (The child accepts the situation and does not seem interested when reunited).
 
***At the end I would like to mention that many parents suffer themselves as a result of separation. This can be guilt, especially in mothers who return back to work. Concern about the welfare of the child, or if he may become attached more to someone else.  Parents sometimes feel that they are not needed and this can be true when children star nursery or school.