As babies develop, they tend to form mental images of their parents and look for these images to be reinforced in the first two years of life by their parents' presence, say educators and health professionals at the Lucy Daniels Center for child mental health services. When these images aren't reinforced, toddlers and preschoolers can develop defense mechanisms to deal with unmet expectations or display negative behaviors to express their anger. In either case, staying away from your child for too long is ill-advised and can ultimately hurt your little one's feelings.
1. Fear of Abandonment
Researchers at Scholastic magazine state that fear of abandonment in young children can be so severe that kids will "scream, vomit and beg parents not to leave," which can be pretty heartbreaking for any parent to witness. If you or your partner have to be away from your little one for an extended amount of time, try your best to reassure your tot with tender, loving kindness and affection.
Toddlers and preschoolers can easily feel angry about not having their parent around and may even display their anger in the form of temper tantrums and acting out behaviors. Your toddler or preschooler may not possess the vocabulary to express the complex emotions he feels as a result of his parent's absence, so yelling, screaming and hitting others when he's frustrated may be the best tool he has to release these emotions.
3. Feelings of Guilt
Since toddlers are at a developmental stage where they believe that the world pretty much revolves around them, they can feel like it's their fault that their parent is out of the home. This is also true for preschoolers and older children, as professionals from the Third Judicial District Court of Idaho explain, who may believe they are unlovable, which is the reason that their parent is absent from the home.
An absentee parent puts more responsibility on the single parent to spend quality time with her little one. If you have a hectic work schedule and have difficulties managing your multiple, parental duties, your little one may experience loneliness, especially if he's an only child. If at all possible, try to set aside time each day to engage in some type of activity together to build a strong bond. Don't forget to remind your child of how much you love and appreciate him, too.