Recognize Child Separation Anxiety

All children experience anxiety. It is to be expected, especially at certain developmental stages.

It is perfectly normal for children between the ages of one and preschool to experience intense periods of anxiety, from time to time, or short-lived fears.

Separation anxiety revolves around the child’s fear of being separated from a major attachment figure. A sign that your child may need some professional help is if the fear interferes with your/their daily activities.

Some possible indicators of child separation anxiety are:

  • Preoccupation with thoughts of harm coming to their primary care giver
  • Unrealistic worry about getting kidnapped, lost or separated
  • Refusal to go to school because of separation
  • Refusal to go to sleep unless they are near a major attachment figure
  • Repeated nightmares with a separation theme
  • Repeated physical symptoms like nausea, headache or vomiting when separating

What Can You do to Help Your Child?

  • If the symptoms are severe and persistent, find a professional mental health specialist who understands separation anxiety in children and get their opinion.
  • Additionally, understand that giving in to your child’s demands frequently will result in strengthening their anxiety.
  • Give words of encouragement to your child. Tell them how brave they are.
  • One of the most detrimental things you can do is belittle them about their fears.
  • Reassure your child in familiar situations. Remind them that everything was fine the last time.
  • Prepare your child as much as possible so he/she will know what to expect when making transitions.
  • Be positive and brave yourself. If your child senses your anxiety he/she will pick up on your feelings.

Differential Diagnoses

If your child is exhibiting these symptoms, it is important to get a professional diagnosis. Other illnesses can cause some of the same symptoms as child separation anxiety. In order to get the correct treatment for your child’s anxiety you must get an accurate diagnosis.

There is Help Available

If your child is suffering from an anxiety disorder a simple, step-by-step manual for mastering the problem is Helping Your Anxious Child: A Step-by-Step guide for Parents.

A trip to the family doctor to confirm the child separation anxiety disorder and to rule out any medical conditions that may be contributing factors will also be helpful. Just be aware that medical doctors may offer you dangerous medications to medicate your child’s anxiety.

Relief is available for difficulties that plague the mental and emotional health of our loved ones.


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