The anxiety separation is loosely defined as the fear of being away from. The most common ways parents and children act out their suspicions is through tantrums and grasping. It is a healthy and regular part of your child’s development between 8 and 14 months.
Separation anxiety disorder is a diagnosis for children who fall outside the limits of this otherwise normal developmental stage.
Symptoms of separation anxiety
Symptoms of separation anxiety as a developmental stage are considered normal up to 2 years of age and always include elements that make the parent question their departure, including:
- Excessive crying
- Forcibly holding onto the parent’s body or clothing
- Refusal to interact with the caregiver or other children
- External triggers can make anxiety worse and include
New situations take children out of their routine, including a new caregiver, a recent move, or a new sibling—family difficulties, such as marital problems or financial issues, stress adults at home, hurt children.
You may also be interested in: Fear of Abandonment: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment.
Separation anxiety in older children
It’s normal for some older children, timid ones, to go through a phase where they don’t want their parents to leave. However, a caregiver can typically redirect the child to participate in group activities. Children older than two years who do not respond to redirection or show severe symptoms may be suffering from a separation anxiety disorder.
When separation anxiety becomes a diagnosable disorder
Separation anxiety disorder is a specific psychological disorder different from normal separation anxiety, although it can be difficult to differentiate because symptoms can overlap.
The most common symptoms of separation anxiety disorder include
- Stomach ache
- Excessive fears or worry that something will happen to the parent or child while the two of you are apart.
- Flatly refusing to participate in different activities and crying inconsolably for the duration of the separation.
Age-inappropriate separation anxiety in older children or adults
How to Cope With Separation Anxiety
Normal separation anxiety is manageable through a joint effort between parents and caregivers; establishing a routine is the most critical component for success. Don’t be tempted to sneak away, as this can make children more fearful. The next time your child is anxious:
- Explain what will happen in direct terms to explain where you are going, who will be in charge, and when you will return.
- Give your child time to adjust by visiting a new school or babysitter’s house together. Let him get used to the new person before you leave.
- Stay calm and optimistic, focus on the fun your child will have, and treat the separation as usual.
- Say goodbye once, no matter how much your child screams or cries, give him a big hug and kiss, and walk out the door.
- Build on small successes by leaving it for just an hour or two the first day and gradually increase the time, always coming back when you promised.
Treatment for Anxiety Disorder
A separation anxiety disorder may require professional intervention with a trained mental health professional. Gather as much information as possible before your first therapy visit, including details about your child’s behavior when you leave and when you are away.
A good therapist will become part of the team that includes you, your child, and the caregiver, making suggestions for all of you to follow. Over time, you may find that your child is eager to participate in the new daily activities.
Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.