It is very common for toddlers and young children to experience the feeling of anxiety the moment you say goodbye to them. In the days of early infantile, crying, throwing tantrums, or clinginess are all considered to be healthy responses to parting and a normal phase of development. The term separation anxiety is normally used during the primary toddler years. As kids start becoming more conscious of their environments and start to comprehend the world around them, the fear of separating from parents and caregivers can be a major challenge and struggle for them. It is very common for parents to witness screams and cries once they leave for work, or even when they leave their child at day-care of school. Though witnessing the child crying is difficult for the guardians, this part of childhood transformation is fairly common and there are ways to ease these changes.
Separation nervousness can mark its onset prior to a child’s first birthday, and may pop up again or may continue till the time a child is four years of age. However, both the level of intensity and the timing of separation anxiety differ immensely from child to child. A little bit of concern over leaving mom or dad is pretty normal, even when your child grows up. You can make the child feel at ease by staying persistent and reliable, and by gently but resolutely setting limits. What parents are not always prepared for is the reoccurrence of separation unease in bigger kids. Both school-going children and adolescents can fall prey to this kind of anxiety problem and, in some cases, it can also result in Separation Anxiety Disorder.
Let’s have a closer look at the symptoms of Separation Anxiety Disorder
While a few weeping at drop off and after school meltdowns are legitimately common among children and should not be a cause of concern, parents must never ignore the symptoms of anxiety disorder like refusing to attend school, disturbance in sleeping patterns and unnecessary anguish, when faced with separation. The above-mentioned signs can adversely impact a child’s day-to-day living.
- Recurring unwarranted misery when anticipating or facing separation from home or from people who they are closely attached to.
- Insistent and extreme fear about losing an attachment figure or likely harm to them by disease, accident, tragedies, or even death.
- Denial to step out or away from home, including to school or performing other activities, due to the fright of separation.
- Extreme dread of being alone or without parents or caretakers
- Difficulty in sleeping away from home or go to sleep without parents
- Hallucinations about separation
- Physical health complaints like abdominal pain, headaches or even vomiting when parents are away.
The signs of Separation Anxiety Disorder in toddlers and juveniles last for a span of four weeks and can lead to tremendous distress. School denial is most common with such children, thus hampering their academic functioning. Separation Anxiety Disorder can also negatively impact societal and family relationships. Moreover, these kids tend to shadow parents around the house, they might also display difficulty playing or sleeping. However some toddlers, experience separation the anxiety that doesn’t seem to fade away, even with the best efforts from parents. These children are likely to experience a prolongation or reoccurrence of strong separation anxiety during their fundamental school years or even beyond.
Tips to ease anxiety caused due to separation in kids
Parents must practice separation: You must consider leaving your kid with somebody you are sure will take care of your kid in your absence. Initially, you must try and leave them for a short interval of time, once your child is accustomed to the separation you can start leaving them for the longer time span.
Try to schedule separations post naps or feedings. Toddlers are more prone to experience separation anxiety when they are fatigued or famished.
You must leave without fanfare. While you are moving out, tell your baby that you are leaving and that you will be coming back soon, then go instead of stalling and making it worse for the kid.
Fulfill your promises. For your child to cultivate the self-reliance that they can handle separation, it is prudent for you to return back at the same time that you had promised.
Curtail yourself from watching scary programs. Your child is less probable to be dreadful if the shows you watch on television are not scary.
Refrain from giving in. Assure your child that he or she is going to be just fine—setting reliable and steady limits will facilitate your child’s modification to parting.
Your honest efforts will play a major role in letting your little one has the chance to experience what it feels like to be by herself and having a good time. Once your kid gains the confidence to stay while you are away, it will surely enhance his or her confidence and individuality, as well as will facilitate her feel more secure and protected on her own even in the long run.
Inputs by Dr. Atish Laddad, Founder & Director at Docterz