Dealing with stranger anxiety

We navigated stranger anxiety pretty well thus far.  My daughter is almost 17 months old, and she’s handled herself relatively well with new people until this past weekend.  We left her in the nursery at church, which wasn’t new to her, and she had a meltdown.  We came back after service to find she’d cried herself to sleep in the arms of a caring church lady.  It was far from typical behavior for my little girl.

My sweet, sensitive girl

Her only babysitters have been her grandparents — all of whom she is used to.  We’ve been so proud that she doesn’t cry for us when we leave her with them.  And she still doesn’t.  But, we’re now trying to navigate the waters of being able to leave her with others.  I definitely want her to have a healthy fear of strangers and not just go wandering off with any nice person she sees, but I also want her to be able to relax and enjoy herself.

So this week I’m doing some research.  I don’t want to be an anal, overprotective mother, but I do want to do what is best for my child.  I’m debating about whether we should just keep at it and eventually she’ll adjust to being in the nursery or if I need to ease her into it by staying with her for the first five minutes or so.

One thing she does love is other children.  I try to get her around other kids, but that has been challenging the last couple of months with bad weather and my bum shoulder.  I want her to enjoy her time with other kiddos on Sunday mornings at church.

I’m thankful for the Internet so I can look up some suggestions for helping her through this time.  My mom didn’t have the Internet when she was raising my brother and me.  I was also a sensitive child, just like Lexiana is.  She wears her heart on her sleeve and already is sympathetic with others.  Just last week we had to discipline the dog, and she almost started crying on his behalf.  I’ve heard stories of how when my mom left me in preschool, I’d cry and cry.  Heck, I’m still sensitive and easily tear up.  I’m tearing up right now, in fact.  I don’t mind for my daughter to be sensitive.  I do think it’s her nature like it is mine, but I also want to help her learn to navigate the world so she can be happy.  Being able to be without her parents or grandparents is part of that.

So, we are working on dealing with a bit of stranger anxiety.  I will do my research, and then I will go with what my gut is telling me.  I know this is a normal phase that kids go through.  But, I also know how my heart feels when I hear her crying for me or her dad.  That’s not a good feeling.

Other mamas out there, how have you dealt with this?

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