Separation Anxiety in Children: 10 Useful Tips to Cope

A baby or toddler sobs or throws a fit when their parent leaves their sight; this behavior is a classic sign of separation anxiety in babies.

This is an effort to re-enter the parent into the child’s presence. Sometimes kids weep for a while after their parents leave because they are so anxious just thinking about leaving them.

Although children normally outgrow this, it might happen and the sensations can become more intense.

Let’s read more about kids and separation anxiety.

What is separation anxiety disorder in children?

Separation anxiety disorder (SAD), according to WebMD, is a condition in which a kid experiences worry and anxiety when they are away from home or separated from a close family member, typically a parent or other caregiver, to whom the child is bonded.

It also states that separation anxiety or clinginess in infants between the ages of 8 and 14 months is highly common, and according to some sources, separation anxiety in young children between the ages of 18 months and almost 3 years is also quite common.

Even older kids occasionally go through brief periods of separation anxiety, though this is less common than with babies. Children who have transitioned from separation anxiety to a problem are even less prevalent.

In the United States, it has been found that 4%–5% of kids between the ages of 7 and 11 struggle with separation anxiety. With only 1.3% of American youths affected, this illness is less common among teenagers. Girls and boys are both equally vulnerable to its consequences.

What causes children to develop separation anxiety?

While it seems sense for babies to be separated because their brains are still developing, what about kids? How widespread is childhood separation anxiety?

Some older children with separation anxiety from childhood appear to have experienced it to some extent throughout their entire lives, while others have a period of time without problems before experiencing it once more, usually around the age of 7 or 8. How come?

This typically occurs as a result of a novel circumstance.

It can be because they are starting school, or it might be because they have just moved and are concerned that they will be left behind. Other potential worries include a new daycare center or even a new sibling moving in.

The child’s entire world is shaken up by all the novelty, causing them to cling to whatever provides them with the most solace.

When predictability is challenged, children react by doing whatever makes them feel the most secure since they thrive on predictability.

The older child has been acting more clingy lately, so there may be another explanation. There are particular difficulties associated with separation anxiety in older children.

A youngster may try to find as much safety in being with a parent as they can if there is a lot of family stress going on or if a traumatic experience has made them question their safety.

Perhaps they recently visited the hospital, got lost at the shopping, or had a family member pass away. Children may react by exhibiting separation anxiety symptoms.

5 symptoms of separation anxiety in children

Children who experience separation anxiety may exhibit a variety of symptoms that reflect their anguish and discomfort when removed from their primary caregivers or comfortable surroundings.

Here are five typical signs of separation anxiety:

Excessive distress

Children who experience separation anxiety may become too distressed in these circumstances. They could cry incessantly, become inconsolable, or exhibit strong physical symptoms like trembling or sweating. These emotions frequently take place either before or during a breakup.

Clinging behavior

This is frequently considered a component of toddler separation anxiety.

Children who are anxious about being separated from their caregivers sometimes seem clingy. They can demand to be in close proximity all the time and hate being left alone. They could grow overly dependent on one person and find it difficult to engage in activities that require separation.

Fear of harm

Children who have separation anxiety frequently have a strong concern that something negative will happen to them or a loved one while they are apart. They may show intense desires to stay in frequent contact with their caretakers for protection and reassurance as they worry about mishaps, sickness, or other unfortunate situations.

Reluctance to attend school or social events

Children who experience separation anxiety may avoid going to places like school, daycare, or social gatherings where they must be separated from their caretakers. To get out of the separation situation, kids could show resistance, complain about bodily discomfort, or engage in avoidance tactics.

Physical symptoms

Physical signs of separation anxiety can include headaches, nausea, stomachaches, and even vomiting. These symptoms may be brought on by stress, and when the child is reunited with their caregiver, they usually go away or get better.

10 practical suggestions for dealing with children’s separation anxiety

or how to handle children’s separation anxiety

Small Ben has had a successful year. He now sleeps in a toddler bed and has even started training himself to use the toilet.

Ben cries and gets out of bed frequently at night, running to his parents’ room to climb into bed with them.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, although parents may mistake this behavior for simple disobedience, it is actually a typical stage of a child’s growth.

How therefore may separation anxiety be managed?

The group offers parents advice on how to handle separation anxiety by continuing to be tough but kind.

Reassurance is essential in dealing with separation anxiety in toddlers or children of any age, is the clear solution.

Your youngster has to understand that you won’t be leaving.

If you need to go out for a while, let your child know why and tell them that you will be back.

Here are 11 methods for reducing children’s separation anxiety:

UNICEF urges parents to talk to their children about your homecoming plans in order to allay their fears of not seeing you again. Their separation anxiety may be lessened by this.

By leaving your child with a dependable friend or relative for brief periods, gradually introduce separations. This enables children to get used to being alone without you.

Give your youngster something to cling onto during separations, like a soft toy or blanket. Introduce a favorite comfort item if they don’t already have one.

If your youngster is afraid, give them support and consolation. Spend some time hearing their worries, then react sympathetically and empathetically.

Before leaving your child alone with new caretakers, arrange brief get-togethers that include all parties to gently introduce them.

Quickly and sincerely say your goodbyes while being composed and upbeat. Even though saying goodbye might be challenging, keeping a cheerful outlook can reassure your youngster.

When possible, use the same drop-off ritual at the same time each day to maintain consistency in your daily separation process. This predictability reduces unanticipated factors.

Respect your pledge to arrive when you say you will. By honoring your word, you cultivate your child’s faith in you and give them the assurance that they can survive without you.

Give your youngster clear explanations of your homecoming in concrete terms. Inform them in a way that makes sense to them if you know you’ll be back by 3:00 pm.

Decrease your tendency to overindulge in reassurance-seeking. Instead, reassure your child that everything will be okay and set clear limits to help them adjust to being apart from you.

Encourage your child to carry a familiar object from home when they are gone whenever it is possible to retain familiar surroundings or make unfamiliar environments familiar.

Therapy is one of the more sophisticated and medically accepted approaches to manage a child’s separation anxiety.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most widely utilized therapy for separation anxiety disorder. CBT involves teaching parents and kids how to alter harmful beliefs and habits.

In order to find healthy coping mechanisms for both their roles as parents and partners, it is also suggested for parents to think about couples counselling for themselves.

Additional questions to consider

Children’s separation anxiety is a delicate subject to handle. We have gathered some additional pertinent questions and their responses to assist parents in navigating this challenge. Continue reading.

How can a pediatrician identify a child’s separation anxiety disorder?

Pediatricians carry out detailed evaluations, which may include interviews with the child and caregivers, behavior observation, and taking into account the persistence of symptoms and their effects on day-to-day functioning.

Which kids are most susceptible to separation anxiety?

Children who have gone through major life upheavals, have been traumatized, have had their attachments disrupted, are nervous by nature, or who have a family history of anxiety disorders are more likely to develop separation anxiety disorder.

When does a child’s separation anxiety turn into a disorder?

Children’s separation anxiety develops into a disorder when the symptoms are severe, persistent, and significantly interfere with day-to-day functioning, distressing the kid and limiting their ability to carry out everyday tasks.

educating your children for a future with greater security
Separation anxiety is a frequent condition in kids, so it’s crucial to understand what it entails so you can see the signs in your child early and take the appropriate action.

You can encourage your youngster to feel more at ease leaving your side by providing reassurance and practicing brief separations.

It’s a good idea to take your child to their pediatrician and a psychologist for examination when they don’t outgrow their fears and especially when they worsen.

There are numerous effective therapy choices if they are diagnosed with separation anxiety disorder. In general, your goal should be to teach your child the best coping mechanisms for dealing with their concerns and to help them form healthier responses to anything that forces them to step outside of their comfort zone.