Separation Anxiety: Everything You Need to Know

This is a situation that occurs when a child becomes frightened or nervous on separation from his or her parents. The child could show this by tearing up, refusing to let go of the parents, or by fitting into a rage. Some kids also develop physical symptoms, such as stomachaches or headaches, at the thought of being separated. While this is relatively hard to witness, it is quite commonplace in the early childhood period. Separation anxiety varies greatly between children.

Here’re some important facts about separation anxiety.

Infants: Separation anxiety develops after a kid gains comprehension of object permanence. Once the infants realize the parent is really gone, it may leave them unsettled. Although some infants demonstrate separation anxiety and object permanence as early as 4 to 5 months of age, most develop stronger separation anxiety at around 9 months. Also, the leave-taking may be worse if the infant is tired, hungry, or not feeling well.

Toddlers: Many toddlers don’t feel separation anxiety in infancy and begin displaying challenges at 15 or 18 months of age. As kids develop independence during toddlerhood, they may become more aware of separations. Their behaviors at separations may be tearful, loud, and difficult to stop.

Preschoolers: By the time kids are 3 years of age, most of them clearly understand the effect of their pleas or anxiety on their parents. It doesn’t mean they’re not stressed, but they surely are vying for a change.

Parents can try these strategies to help their kids survive separation anxiety.

·         Transitional objects, such as a favorite stuffed toy or blanket, can be reassuring to small kids. They represent safety, comfort, and joy. Encouraging the kids to attach to a transitional object early in infancy will help them become better at self-soothing later on. When parents need to separate from their kids, they need to ensure that those objects are close at hand to offer comfort while they’re away.

·         Parents can try to ease their kids into separation. They can tell the baby or toddler that they’ll be going to another room and will be back soon. It’ll help the baby/toddler start to make the connection that although the parent is gone now, he or she will come back.

Parents can also practice being apart from their kids to help them survive separation anxiety in the long run. If parents know that they’re going to be away for a longer period than normal, they should help their kids work up to that separation by taking some short breaks.

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