By Mina Yadegar, Psy.D.and Joshua Masse, Ph.D.
With you and your little one likely spending considerably more time together, you may be noticing an increase in anxiety at bedtime or even moments of separation during the day (e.g., when you and your child are in different rooms). Many parents are concerned for their child starting Pre-K or returning back to school again after COVID-19. Perhaps you would like to foster independence in your child within the many limitations of a lockdown.
We are all experiencing an increase in anxiety and stress in recent times. In young children anxiety may be expressed as fear of being alone, clinging to you, difficulty sleeping, or protesting when you go grocery shopping or out for a walk. Your parental instinct may be to comfort your child and accommodate anxiety by co-sleeping together, sitting with them during virtual school, or having them sit on your lap during your work conference calls. However, such accommodating behaviors maintain and reinforce anxiety in the long-term. Children may then develop the belief that they are unable to cope with anxiety or that their fear (e.g., of sleeping alone) is actually threatening. Instead many parents want to teach their children to be brave and independent in the face of anxiety and the current uncertainty of the future.