NURTURE INFORMATION HUB
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Separation anxiety is one of the most common types of anxiety experienced by children. It is the overwhelming feeling brought about by the fear of separation from a particular caregiver, usually a parent. This can be experienced either over a short or long period of time. This type of anxiety is so painful because it is experienced, anticipated, and often felt many times within your normal routine. Separation anxiety is common in the baby and toddler years, though as your child reaches school age these issues should generally improve, however don’t stress if it is experienced when your child first starts school or changes schools. Tears, trying to hide and avoiding others when being dropped off at a new surrounding such as a new classroom are to be expected and should improve as they become familiar with their peers, new adults and different surroundings.
These are some signs your child is experiencing separation anxiety
Separation anxiety is a normal part of child development, though in some children it can be very severe and occurring in children much older than what is developmentally normal, this can be indicator of a more serious condition known as separation anxiety disorder. SAD (separation anxiety disorder) is diagnosed when symptoms are excessive for your child’s developmental age and cause significant difficulty in daily functioning. Separation anxiety disorder will not generally go away on its own and requires professional intervention otherwise it may lead to more complex issues such as panic attacks and other anxiety disorders later in life.
As emotional as it can be for parents who are dealing with separation anxiety, there are many things that you can do to help
It is important that you seek professional help for your child if their separation anxiety is not improving over time, if it is becoming worse and if it is negatively impacting your child’s day, for example their school attendance is being affected. Share your concerns with professionals such as your child’s teacher, school chaplain, GP or paediatrician who will be able to help with strategies or will be able to refer you on to other professionals such as a child psychologist or psychiatrist.
In most cases parents will be able to help their child move past these fears of separation through kindness, consistency and positive support.