The Grieving Toddler

I have to leave my 18 months old daughter for two weeks. I am going to be out of the country. I wanted to know is this going to affect her and if so, how much and how can i make it better. Please help.Yes, this probably will affect her. Is there any way you can avoid leaving the country without her when she is so young? If she were three years old it would be much better.

She is too young to understand your disappearance, and she may easily feel you have rejected her or you are dead. If you are the most important person in her life, the loss will be very great for her.

Make sure that her caregivers when you are away are people she is already close to, like her father or her grandparents. If you have time before going, leave her with these people for short periods sometimes, and even overnight, so that she can learn that you leave but you always come back to her.

Prepare her for your trip by explaining as much as she can understand. Give her something like a stuffed toy to hold to for you until you return. Give it a special name and say that it holds your love for her and she can cuddle it when she wants you.

Prepare her caregivers by explaining that she may grieve, and they are not to punish her if she becomes upset and refuses to obey them or to be close to them. She is not just misbehaving, she is mourning the loss of you. Tell them to let her know each day that you are coming back after “14 more sleeps … 10 more sleeps … 5 more sleeps” and so on.

If you are able to during your trip, phone her at the same time every day so that she can expect and look forward to your phone calls. She may cry when she hears your voice, but that’s okay. You can repeat that you will be back home after so many more sleeps.

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