On Separation Anxiety

UncategorizedAdministrator5 Comments

It is natural for young children to feel anxious when you drop them off at the nursery or say goodbye.  Although this can be very difficult for parents, it is a normal stage of development.  With understanding, patience, love, faith and trust, it can be relieved and should lessen and fade as your child gets older. In the early stages of childhood, crying, tantrums or clinging to father and mother are actually healthy reactions to separation.  Separation anxiety can begin before a child’s first birthday and pop up again or last until a child is four years old, but both the intensity level and timing of separation anxiety vary tremendously from child to child.  One way you, as the parent, can ease your child’s anxiety is by staying patient, loving, and consistent and by gently and firmly setting limits.

At SojournKids, we want to journey with you and serve you during these times of separation from your precious children.  Please know that your Sojourn servants are willing and able to assist you.  We do so with joyful hearts, knowing that our service to you and your child allows you to enjoy a time of worship.  Your children are being cared for and loved by the childcare servants of Sojourn!

Here are a few tips to help ease your anxiety and the anxiety of your precious one!!!

General Guidelines for Easing Separation Anxiety:

  1. Develop a “good bye” ritual. Rituals can bring reassurance to your child and can be as simple as a kiss bye or a wave.
  2. Leave without fanfare. Tell your child you are leaving and that you will be back soon, then go—don’t stall, just go!
  3. Practice leaving your child. Leave your child with someone for a brief period at first to help him/her experience your leaving and returning.
  4. Keep familiar “things” when possible and make new surroundings familiar to your child. When your child is away from home or a familiar surrounding, allow them to have a “lovey” or favorite blanket for comfort.  Visit the unfamiliar location so your child can see where they may be going to be left with a caregiver.
  5. Try not to give in. Always reassure your child that you will return and he/she will be just fine and will have fun—setting limits will help the adjustment to separation.

If your child is experiencing separation anxiety in SojournKids, we want to help minimize that anxiety for you and your child.  Here are a few “tried and true” guidelines to help:

Preparing a Child for the Weekend Worship Gathering

During the week prior to the service, parents will need to repeat a simple phrase, repeatedly using the same words to encourage your child about attending SojournKids.  An example of this might be:

  • “Susie, you are going to children's ministry this weekend and Daddy and Mommy are going to worship.  We are all going to learn about Jesus!!!
  • Miss (Insert your child’s teachers’ name here or you can say “your teachers”) loves you so much! We know you may not know your child’s teachers’ name, but if you do, then using it will help familiarize your child with the class he or she is entering.  If you don’t know your child's teacher, please ask at the next gathering so that you will be able to give your child this encouragement.
  • Daddy and mommy love you so much too!
  • You are going to have so much fun with your friends and Miss Teacher!
  • We are going to worship, but we will come back and get you!”

The key here is to use the same phrases, the same words of encouragement throughout the day and EVERY DAY leading up to the weekend gathering.  Even though your child may be young, we encourage you to do this.  This consistent “encouraging talk” to your children, is very helpful.

On the day before the gathering, parents will need to continue these words of encouragement--reminding the child that he/she will be going to children's ministry with his/her friends and teachers on the next day.  Say these words of encouragement / plans for leaving him/her repeatedly throughout the day.

On the day of the gathering, you will want to encourage your child by saying “We get to go to SojournKids today and learn about Jesus!  Daddy and Mommy are going to worship and you are going to children's ministry with Miss Teacher!  You are going to have so much fun!  Your teachers love you so much.  Daddy and Mommy love you too!  We will be back to get you!”

Your Quick Drop-Off:

  1. When you arrive at the Sojourn Kids desk, give your child’s name, get your child’s nametags and put them on your child’s back and belongings.  Make sure you are saying the same phrases to your child that you have been saying ALL week (This is consistency and your child is familiar with all that you are saying at this point and anticipates what is next…)
  2. Give him/her to the Sojourn servant, say bye-bye, “Daddy and Mommy will be right back.  Have fun!”
  3. Smile and be very encouraging as your child is being taken to his/her room.

If  Separation Anxiety Continues:

  1. SojournKids servants are trained to allow a child to cry for up to  15 minutes after drop off before paging parents.  If the child is still upset and crying, the parent is called to return to the SojournKids area.
  2. One parent, either the father or mother (please be consistent), will go back to the door of their child’s room, escorted by a Sojourn servant, kneel down to eye level of their child,  (Do NOT pick up your child!) and say the same phrases that you have been saying ALL week.  Be encouraging, loving and reassuring!  Kiss your child and Leave Quickly!
  3. You may wait in the Sojourn Kids area just in case these steps need to be repeated.
  4. If the child is still crying two or three minutes later (minutes 17-18), return and repeat the same process.  Be quick, encouraging, loving and reassuring  (Do NOT pick up your child!).
  5. If the child is still crying two or three minutes later (minutes 18-20), return and repeat the same process.  Be quick, encouraging, loving and reassuring  (Do NOT pick up your child!).


The Sojourn servants are willing to love and serve both you and your children during this season of parenting adjustment.  They are serving in SojournKids because they desire to care for your children and so that you can attend a worship gathering without having to care for your child.  They love your child, and that is why they are serving in this ministry.  Allow us to minister to YOU so that YOU are free to worship the One, True and Living God!

Testimonies from Sojourn Moms:

Being new parents, we had a really difficult time helping our (now) oldest child deal with her separation anxiety.  After ELEVEN months of picking her up from the nursery every weekend because of her extreme reaction to separation, these guidelines were suggested to us.  For two weeks, we had to continually visit her room to comfort her.  Yet almost immediately after those initial weeks, she finally understood we were not leaving her forever and would not pick her up simply upon her crying demands.  For the first time in a year, we were able to enjoy and be spiritually fed during worship without interruption.  Because of the advice we’d been given with our first child, when our second arrived, we had little hesitancy, knowing he would be well cared for and loved on during his struggles. – Terra Santos

I have had the wonderful privilege to serve in Sojourn Kids and work with children suffering from separation anxiety.  The steps outlined take time and patience, but they will work.  The workers in SojournKids love you and want to serve you well so you can be free to worship. - Robyn Crowe

It was a privilege in a weird sort of way for Tom and I to go through this. We learned so much from it. First and foremost, we learned to trust in the Lord. We wanted total control over the situation and now we feel that only made it worse. I felt like Ryver's crying was bad for the workers and other kids.  As soon as he started crying I wanted him out. As hard and scary as it was to hear Ryver scream back there, the workers reassuring me that they would handle him was such a blessing. What a blessing it was to hear the workers say, 'We are here to serve you and Ryver!" It felt strange at first, but they were so willing to work with not only Ryver, but Tom and I. –Franny Binkowski

Toddlers Need the Gospel

UncategorizedJared KennedyComment

Jay Younts on why the gospel matters for your toddler: Parents who view presenting the gospel as primarily information transfer will lack a sense of urgency. I do not mean that this parent is unconcerned about the spiritual condition of his child. He may be deeply concerned. However, seeing the presentation of the gospel as transfer of information means waiting for when the child is willing to engage in this transfer. The parent who sees the presentation of the gospel as one of search and rescue will have an immediate sense of urgency. Thus, even before the toddler can speak, he will be interacting with parents who see the gospel as the most important reality of life. This child will hear his parents passionately talking to others about the gospel. He will hear his own actions explained in terms of his need of the gospel even before he can articulate a response. He will see and hear that his parents are driven by truths that transcend the temporal. This is the process outlined in Deuteronomy 6. The very thoughts of God, revealed in Scripture, are graven into the hearts of this toddler’s parents. These parents are gripped by God’s call to rescue the lost. This mission defines these parents. This is an immense blessing to our toddler. He is being raised by parents whose mission in life coincides with God’s purpose for each day. That purpose, at least in part, is to bring honor to his great name through the rescue of the lost.

Practically this toddler will hear often of the wonder of Jesus Christ. His parents will see his sin as an opportunity to present the gospel to him and not merely to correct his behavior. He will live in a home that is focused on the wonder of a God who forgives sins. This focus leads to joy. Joy comes from the reality that Jesus is our effective and loving high priest. Living for the gospel means living with joy.

So, when this toddler spills a cup of milk because he is still learning how to handle a cup, he is not scolded. His parents speak lovingly and reassuringly to him. They help him learn to handle the cup with more precision. He knows that he is more valuable than spilt milk. He is lovingly disciplined when he sins, but he is also lovingly embraced when he acts like a 2 year old. He is on the road to knowing what it means to be loved and being secure. The gospel matters to his parents. In time, Lord willing, the gospel will also matter to him.

HT: Doug Wolter: Life2gether.

Piper: How did you do family devotions when your kids were really little?

UncategorizedJared Kennedy2 Comments

Early this morning Bryce Butler sent me an article from John Piper on leading family devotions with the very young.  The Desiring God site has the complete article and audio to download.  Here are some of the best excerpts:

From the family standpoint there would always be a time to meet. It was at the breakfast table in those early days. So you have a child who is now rested—at least it's the way it worked for our boys and Talitha—they were rested and had a full tummy. So they were relatively happy.

And at that moment Daddy gets out a big book. And he reads from it, a paragraph maybe. This little child doesn't understand anything I'm saying. He's six months old, or nine months, or a year.

He doesn't understand anything I'm saying, but he's learning big time what is going on here: he's watching daddy take leadership; he's noticing a book; he's hearing reading; he's watching them pray afterwards; and he's learning massively important things before he understands a word that is going on here...

You're not demanding faith from this little pagan, because he's not ready even to come to those terms. You're doing teaching: you're building and your exulting and your praying and your asking, and he's watching all this happen as you build that into his life.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:

Parenting Goals


Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers, Session 3 As parents, we are exposed to all kinds of ideas of how to parent our children.  They come from everywhere: family traditions, pop-culture, and the church.  In this session, we look at the goals that are impressed upon us and compare them to our Biblical mandate, to see if they hold up to the scrutiny of the Bible.

Tripp suggests an all-encompassing goal that we can use to focus our view of life and the training of our children.  It is the first question and answer from the Shorter Catechism:

Q.    What is the chief end of man?

A.    Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

This lays out a Biblical worldview before our children.

Tripp writes, “From their earliest days, (our children) must be taught that they are creatures made in the image of God – made for God.  They must learn that they will only ‘find themselves’ as they find him.  Your child must grow to see that real living is experienced when he stands before God and says, ‘Who have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you (Psalm 73:25).’  If this is what you want for your children, then you must ensure that the content of everyday life fits this objective.”

Download the class notes for this session or view all of the Sojourn Home Parenting Classes.