Today marks the first official day of my training for the Philadelphia Marathon! Unfortunately, my run at the gym was cut short because one of the childcare workers came running to me while I was on the treadmill to tell me that my daughter was "screaming". She was not just crying... she was "sss-creeee-ming"! Uh oh... she is hitting 8 months which means she could be developing stranger anxiety. She just took a one hour nap and it was not quite feeding time yet. My suspicion is confirmed when my little one started smiling and blowing bubbles at me the minute I put her in her usual play area at home.
So stranger anxiety is fairly common and can be a part of normal development. Some babies get it much worse than others. Usually it starts at around 8 months and can last well into the toddler years. Before this stage, babies are pretty oblivious to what is new and what is usual in their environment. They become accustomed to their caregivers familiar faces and new faces and/or new surroundings can cause fear and anxiety. In order to get over stranger anxiety one must be able to:
- feel safe in their home environment
- trust people other than their usual caregivers
- trust their caregivers will return
Now to accomplish this is no easy task. I think some kids just get over it faster because of their personalities in addition to what they are exposed to. A child who has the same caregiver all the time in their own home will likely have a harder and longer time adjusting than another child who goes to daycare.
Now my kids get a combination of me at home about fifty percent of the time and a rotation of 2-3 other caregivers the other times. So my two year old is pretty outgoing and fearless right now. She can probably run off in a crowded place without looking back and lose me. However, I do remember she also went through a period of much crying and distress when I used to leave her at the gym child care center or even the church nursery. Now for me, what was difficult was feeling bad for the workers and fearing that my child may get hurt or slighted in some way if the workers got too annoyed. Of course, I felt bad for my stressed out child as well, but I figured she would get over it eventually and this was all part of the process of learning to cope.
So.. here we go again. I sure hope it will not be as bad with this second child but I'm bracing myself because this second child sure has a set of lungs! She does not usually cry and is very happy and smiley almost all day long. However, when she gets upset... she just screams and screams. There is no in between for her. So this should be fun... ah parenting... does it ever get easier?