Skip to main content

Anxiety. Of the Separation Variety.

Let me just be honest here. With Husby's knowledge in the field of medicine, he is aware of all types of good little nuggets of information when it comes to health and Weebie. He also knows the patterns of children and the different stages they go through and when they go in and out of them. He warned me of separation anxiety when Weebie was 8 months old, saying that typically that is the child's first bout with it. Then it kind of dies down and comes back around 15 months.

Levi soared through his eighth month of life with a breeze and never dealt with any sort of anxiety when we left him. I was all too quick to pat Husby and myself on the back. "Well, we dropped him off in the Church nursery when he was a month old and he has been in there almost every Sunday since. Plus, he goes there during my Bible Study on Tuesdays, so he is completely familiar with everything and everyone. Yay us! Yay for breaking him in early. Plus, he spends time away from us with his grandparents and that helps, too. Yay us! Yay for being so on top of things!"

Silly us.

I honestly thought we would never deal with separation anxiety.

But two weeks ago came.

We dropped Levi off in the Church nursery and went on about our typical Sunday. About 15 minutes passed and here comes a lady wading through the people in the aisles with her eyes grid locked on me. I panicked. I've never been called back to the nursery before for Levi. What on earth was happening?

She quietly told me that Levi was crying and wouldn't calm down. My heart sank!! I scurried back there and found him wailing and screaming - absolutely terrified. For the life of me, I could not figure it out. Did he not remember being in there just a week ago?

I was a little apprehensive this past Sunday because we were at visiting my parents back at the Church I grew up in and not our home Church. We dropped Levi off, said a little prayer and made a run for it. I knew that if he were going to break down, it would be a little bit after we left. Usually kids freak out during "the pass off", but he waits about 15 minutes before he decides he's nervous.

A dear family friend told me she would come get me if anything happened, and wouldn't you know it, I was sitting in Sunday School and I see her through a window coming my way. I hoped and prayed she was coming to get another Mom, but nope - it was me.

I made my way back there and there were some workers outside the room. They said he had stopped crying so I decided to NOT go in. I knew if he saw me he would definitely have a melt down if I left again. I was so happy I didn't have to go in, but I still hated that he was so upset.

I know that this is just a stage and all part of what most children go through, but I don't like it. I want him to have fun and play like he used to do! I want him to know that we will always be back to get him. And I know that the only way for these things to happen is to just keep doing it and he will eventually grow out of it.

But I just don't understand it.
1.) He's there every week and has been for a YEAR.
2.) The room is completely familiar.
3.) He remembers people and things so well; why can't he remember that we always come pick him up?

Anyone else been through this? Any words of wisdom or encouragement? I don't like knowing my baby is scared - it makes it hard to concentrate on why I'm at Church in the first place.
I am a modern day homemaker with a passion for family, cooking, celebrating, decorating, travel, and memory making! The Lord has blessed me with the desires of my heart in my husband and our two sons. We recently built our dream home and cultivating a loving and happy haven for my family is where I find so much joy.


  1. You're doing great! I used to work in a daycare and a lot of kids who came through there had never been in a daycare before.. even at around 3-5 years old. So the second the child cries the parent would leave with them. So the fact that you have had him in a nursery since he was so young, and the fact that you haven't given up is very good.

    I'm sure it will take time, but Levi should adjust soon. Good luck!

  2. My daughter has been doing the same thing. She had her first bout of sep. anxiety from 6-8 months. unfortunately her dad and i got married when she was 7 months so she screamed throughout the whole wedding because she wanted mommy. she's been fine since 8 months, but now she's almost 16 months and my husband and i trade turns getting up with her in the mornings. on mornings that he gets up with her, she cries and refuses to let him hold her while she yells "mommy! mommy! mommy!" for about 10 minutes. Then she realizes it's just her dad and it's fine, but it's so weird to see her act out like that.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. i work with children and i have noticed that they try to see if their crying works; and i believe that you were absolutely right with not going; because then he will think everytime he cries you will come!
    he will adjust and be just fine! i see it everyday; and within minutes they realize mom and dad arent going to fall for it and stop crying;
    just keep doing what yoru doing and keep him on schedule! he will do great!
    good luck girly!

  5. My first born went through separation horribly the entire first year. Throw in a heart surgery at 8 months old and a 5 day stay at the PICU (where we couldn't stay the night with her) and we had separation anxiety on our hands like I never imagined.

    But, I'm glad to say that she's now going to be 4 and has no issues whatsoever with going to Sunday School, being good for a sitter, etc.

    We had to be super consistent about continuing to put in situations so that we could PROOVE to her that we'd come back for her, but you really need the support of the nursery staff and your family to NOT come get you when he starts crying. He needs to see that someone else can calm him, that he can TRUST someone else other than Mommy and Daddy and all will still be well.

    It's really hard to stay away and let someone else comfort him, but I'd say it's almost necessary for helping them grow out of it.

    However, if the crying just isn't stopping after about 15-20 minutes, I'd go grab him, calm him and leave again.

    It just takes CONSISTENCY and patience. All will be well, you'll see :)

  6. Cub didn't develop separation anxiety until lately, either! Ever since he turned one, it has come and gone. Sometimes he loves to go in the nursery, other times he turns heel and tries to hide between our legs! And he's been in there since he was two weeks old!

    I say, just keep sticking with it. You're doing great and while separation anxiety can last for a while, there will be times where he's happy as a clam to be in there and will toddle right in. Just remember that it isn't anything you've done wrong that makes him want you--it means you're a good Mama!

  7. I haven't gone through this with my LO yet, so no advice, but it sounds like you did the right thing by not going back in. They just need some time to adjust and get distracted. But I can imagine that it broke your heart to know he was stressing. :(

  8. Sorry to hear that Levi is having separation anxiety. All I can say is that he WILL get over it, I promise! You did the right thing at church by not going into the nursery (since he had calmed down). Keep up the good work!

    I would like to officially invite you to visit and/or follow my blog. You can find me at:
    Have a blessed day!

  9. Well, if I recall we were standing in church Sunday and you were asking me for advice and I just shook my head and said.."hmm..I have none!" This has been quite a challenge with Olivia. It used to really bother me(it still does), but I started a study on prayer over the past few weeks. I seriously cover Livy in prayer and ask God to take away her anxiety as she goes to church. It may seem small but I want Olivia to run into the nursery and LOVE church just as much as me. I know that day will come and it will too for Levi:) Love you friend and you are a fantastic mommy!

  10. My son still does this on and off and he is almost three. Now he has anxiety for his home and his bed. He'll sleep away from home with us, but if he's with my sister or his grandparents he asks to come home to his "little" bed. We've only left him overnight once, but my in-laws had to stay here, because he would not go to sleep at their house. I think it's a comfort zone thing, and it's actually good. It shows a cognitive awareness. By the way, he didn't really have the 8 month old seperation anxiety thing either. He was a little older. Don't worry it's just part of growing up.

  11. I try to think of it this way:
    It's not so much the fact that it may be an unfamiliar environment, the problem is that you are not in his environment! Kids can even have separation anxiety issues in the comfort of their own home. Avery went through a phase where she would freak out if I was on the other side of a piece of furniture and she couldn't see me! I could talk, and she would know I was there, but it wasn't enough for her.

    Kids are silly sometimes!

  12. Delilah didn't go thru this at eight months. I am sure it will happen soon enough so thanks for posting this because I know it will be sooo hard for me to not go into the nursery and scoop her up! I just hope the workers at my church will come get me if she gets too worked up.

  13. Poor little Levi! I bet it just breaks your heart.

  14. I am a Sunday School teacher. I have seen this and both of my boys went through it. It is very common, so please don't think it is something you are doing wrong. Usually, it happens when you drop the child off, and then after 5-15 minutes the child is okay. Sometimes it can linger. Usually, if it lingers, in my experience, the child does not feel good, or is tired. We give out crackers for a snack and have bubbles. That usually does the trick. I have never had to call a parent out, yet.

    With my boys, I too had them going to the same church every week, but they still went through it. It's hard, but stay strong. This too shall pass. You did the right thing by not going in there, when he was okay.


  15. I was a camp counselor and even with the BIG kids, the ones who got homesick the worst were the ones whose parents were constantly there checking on them. The other kids seemed to adjust pretty quickly. Not that it's wrong to want to check on him or to be sad that he's sad, but just to say that you're doing the right thing, even if it is hard or sad.

    Plus, at least if you are at a church nursery, you know that those ladies are going to treat him the best out of a lot of the places he will go!

  16. Poor Levi. And Poor YOU! It's hard, I know. Hang in there, friend. :)

  17. My son is 18 months and he's been doing the same thing for a few months now. Originally my situation was the same as yours, and it started happening at church. However, for him, it's only gotten worse. Now I have a hard time leaving him ANYWHERE, even at home with his Dad. I'm glad you wrote this post, maybe some of these other comments will have a suggestion we both can use.

  18. I have zero words of wisdom on this situation. We were in a completely different ball game since made a HUGE move during Ruthie Janes anxiety period. She is 2 1/2 and finally able to let me leave. Her first easy away time from me, besides with the GP's was this past week. You are doing great. As "they" say...This too shall pass!

  19. Sweet little Levi. I don't have any advice (since I don't have a baby with separation anxiety yet - hehe) but I know you're doing wonderfully and I'm sure this stage will pass soon. I'll say a prayer for him today. I've seen other moms deal with it and I know it must be stressful and heartbreaking at times.

    Have a beautiful day! :)

  20. Ezra has gone through this before, when he was 8 or 9 months old. Firstly, it's a stage. It will pass. Keep repeating that to yourself. Secondly, there really are a few ways you can deal with it. You can go get him and keep him with you. You can go visit and then leave again. You can just leave him in nursery and see how long he ends up crying. Personally, I think the second option is just bad, especially if it just reintensifies the anxiety. I opt for the third, but I tell the nursery workers what he likes to do (does he like playing with balls at home?) or ask them to take him on a little walk around the room or down the hall (or outside, if possible!). Also, if it happens again I'll make sure to give him treats. Ezra went through this a bit with his babysitter, even though he saw her twice a week for a loooong time.

    The key with babies, though, is that with each new stage of development (so like, every day) they see the world differently. I try to remember that when I'm befuddled by why something old would scare him all of a sudden. With each new brain synapse he's seeing things differently.

    Basically, I think there's little you can except for ride it out. You can try to make it easier on him if you think it'll help, but it will pass either way. I would just talk to the nursery workers (are they on a rotation or is there someone he's bonded with in the past?) and give them a heads up and give them ways to distract him.

  21. He isn't crying because he doesn't remember the people and the toys and going through every Sunday for a year. He's crying because he's beginning to realize he is independent of you and gets nervous when you're not in his sight.

    My baby girl has horrible separation anxiety. I can't even hand her to my husband. Even if I'm standing right there she freaks out but she's happy to play with Daddy from my arms.

    You're doing great! Just keep trying to take him on Sunday but don't get discouraged if he still needs his security (you). He will get over it before you know it!

  22. I've heard that letting them walk to class holding your hand helps a lot. Then he isn't being wrenched from your arms in a painful separation. That helped with my son a couple of years ago. Is Levi walking good enough yet for that? My kids also do better when their daddy drops them off.

  23. Whitney: you are doing a great job. A little separation now and then makes you each gain a higher appreciation for one another. I can remember Levi's mommy have anxiety and separation issues years ago when she went to Bible Boot Camp but after the week was up you grew by leaps and bounds in trusting in God for you anxiety/separation. Your mom even experienced it but aren't we forever grateful that you stuck it out and then became addicted to the Word of God.
    I love Katie's bathing her baby in prayer over that specific issue of anxiety.
    Keep up the great work in teaching little Levi to have a love for God's house.

  24. Hi Whitney,

    I follow your blog but never comment. (Sorry. :) ) I just wanted to encourage you though--my first child had separation anxiety (the nursery workers had to peel him off of me every time I left him). It was SO hard for me, but we just stayed consistent, left him there, and he eventually grew out of it (I admit it happened though off and on until he was a little past 2). It's not easy. But I had a friend with the same issue and she would take her child out when he'd cry....they could never get him to stay at any sort of sunday school etc until he was around 4.

    Perhaps if you send a lovie (special blankie) or a favorite snack or toy he's attached to that they could pull out when he's having his rough time it might see him over the hump.

    Hang in there & Good luck! Levi is sure a darling little guy. :)


Post a Comment

May the Lord bless you and keep you safe today! Thanks for the comment, friends! :)