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"My toddler cries every time I leave her with the babysitter."

Who tells me that as soon as I'm in the car and out of sight she is perfectly fine, but I still feel so guilty.

COMFORT Let her know you understand how she feels, reassure her that you'll be back and try to return when you say you will. This will help her develop a sense of trust and security that will make it easier for her to cope with future departures. Don't sneak out without telling her you're leaving; this will only make her feel less secure. Your child will also pick up on your feelings as you're going out the door, so even if you're feeling a little upset, it's important to convey a positive relaxed attitude to help her get her own emotions under control.

PLAY Role-playing "departures and arrivals" with your child can help her feel more in control of the situation. It's important to let her arrange how she wants these practice sessions to go. She may want to alternate between being the one who leaves or the one who stays behind. As she role-plays, she will be able to work through many of her thoughts and feelings and try out different coping strategies that she can apply in real life. If you pay close attention to what she says and does when she is pretending to be the person who's leaving, you may even get some ideas about how you can make it easier for her the next time you leave the house.

TEACH Talk to your child about different strategies that she might want to try to help her cope with the departures. Some children find that holding a favourite stuffed animal helps, or having a picture of you that they can look at when you're gone. Let them be a part of coming up with the various ideas and strategies that they can try.

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