Do you remember the time when your baby started crying the moment you left her with someone else, maybe even your partner? As a parent to a baby, you may have gone through your baby’s stages of separation anxiety.
If you thought this condition would go away as your baby grew into a child, chances are, you may not be entirely correct.
While separation anxiety tends to be highest among babies between 9-18 months of age, it can also resurface during the early years of childhood.
What Is Separation Anxiety In Children?
Separation anxiety or stranger anxiety involves distress and wariness when surrounded by unfamiliar people.
- The distress and wariness tends to decrease after the 1st birthday, though it may differ in different babies.
- Separation anxieties are part of the development process and you need not worry much about it.
- These anxieties are common when your baby becomes mobile and can crawl or walk away from you or the main caregiver.
Once your child begins preschool, the condition will becomes significantly less.
- If you notice he or she is distressed when separated from you, it may be a case of separation anxiety disorder in children.
- Based on the studies conducted in 2009, it was concluded that 4% of the school going children and preschoolers develop this condition.
[ Read: Stress In Children ]
How Can You Recognize Separation Anxiety?
Look out for the following in your child to understand if he or she is suffering from separation anxiety:
- Your child hates to be separated from you.
- Feels insecure that you might have met with an accident or injured yourself.
- Refuses to attend school or the day care centers.
- Complains of feeling sick.
- Does not agree to sleep without you.
- The anxiety levels start interfering with your child’s life as well as with yours (the parents’.)
- The severity of anxiety appears unusual with the developmental stages.
- The fears associated with separation have continued for more than four weeks.
[ Read: Parents And Child Relationship ]
What You Can Do To Help Your Child?
Parents often make a mistake by sneaking out when the child is settled, but this can turn the matters worse. Your child might get upset and confused and she might not trust you from the next time.
Follow these ways on how to deal with separation anxiety in children here:
- Tell your child about when you are leaving and by when you will be back. This can work with babies too.
- Engage your child in enjoyable activities before you leave. If you have taken your child to a new setting like a school or a day care center, make sure to spend some time with her in the new environment. This will comfort and soothe her and she won’t be distressed in the new place among unfamiliar faces.
- To make her feel safe, you can carry something she loved from your home. It can be her favorite pillow, the blanket or her favorite toy. You can phase out the objects gradually as she settles down.
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- Keep a happy expression while you are leaving. If you look worried, the child will automatically get upset and feel unsafe.
- You can inform the preschool, child care center or the school about her separation anxiety. This can offer a consistent support to her.
- Positive experiences of reunions or separation can help your child cope with anxieties well. This will ensure matters don’t turn worse.
- You might be very frustrated, but do not criticize her for not being able to deal with her separation anxiety. Avoid using words like “mamma’s baby” or “stop acting stupid”.
- Making up stories or reading books to help your child deal with separation anxieties can work.
- You need to make a conscious effort to develop your child’s self-esteem by complementing her and showing lots of attention.
[ Read: Good Rewards For Kids ]
You Can Seek Professional Help:
You know your child best. If you feel anxiety is crippling your child, you can always seek professional help. Here are some ways you can start:
- Talk to the counselor in school.
- Talk to your child’s pediatrician or general physician.
- Get in touch with the community health centers in your locality or the children health centers.
- Find an anxiety clinic that specializes in dealing with separation anxiety in children and kids.
[ Read: How To Teach Toddlers To Write ]
While it may sound simple, separation anxiety can turn into a major hindrance in your child’s life and overall development.
It is important for you as a parent to provide constant love and attention to your child, while encouraging confidence and individuality too.
Have you encountered this phases in your child yet? Hope by now you got to know on how to handle separation anxiety in children. Do let us know what you did to help your child.
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