Separation Anxiety in Children
What is separation anxiety? Does my child have it?
From the moment your child is born, you spend every second of your day with your child, which is a good thing because your child needs you, especially when they have weeks or months that they’ve been born. You only want to be near your child and make sure that they have all that they need. However, you might start to notice that your child cries or are always following you wherever you go. It could be signs of possible separation anxiety disorder.
What is separation anxiety?
According to PsychologyToday, “Separation anxiety refers to excessive fear or worry about separation from home or an attachment figure” (2019). As your child is at the toddler stage, it’s normal for them always to want your attention and be around you. They might get upset and throw a tantrum. “It usually ends around 2 years old, when toddlers begin to understand that a parent may be out of sight right now but will return later.” (PsychologyToday, 2019). However, as they grow older, your child might show signs of distress, affecting their day-to-day activities. This could mean that they have separation anxiety disorder.
Symptoms of Separation Anxiety Disorder:
- Constant nightmares about separation from people or situations
- Not wanting to sleep alone at night
- Continuous worry about being all alone or losing a parent
- “Panic or temper tantrums at times of separation from parents or caregivers” (StanfordChildrensHealth, n.d.).
- Having headaches and stomachaches due to the anticipation of separation from caregivers
Treatments your child can try:
Every child is different. Treatment can work for one child while it might not work for another child. It all depends on the age and how severe is their separation anxiety.
Some of the treatments are:
- Psychotherapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that can help your child. According to the MayoClinic, “during therapy your child can learn how to face and manage fears about separation and uncertainty” (2018). It can also help parents to manage their child’s condition.
- Medication: If your child is older, medication could possibly be an option. Antidepressants can be prescribed in combination with CBT.
Things you can do:
There are different things that you can do as a parent that can help your child.
- Be supportive: Talk with your child and let them know that they are not alone. Also, talk to their therapist to see how you can help your child.
- Educate: “Learn what triggers your child’s anxiety” (MayoClinic, 2018). If you learn the triggers, you can safely help your child to overcome them.
- Practice: Do different activities with your child, like practicing saying goodbye and leaving the house. The more practice, the better your child can get accustomed to the distance between each other.
Separation Anxiety. (2019). Retrieved from
Separation Anxiety Disorder. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-
Separation Anxiety Disorder in Children. (n.d.). Retrieved from
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