How to manage separation anxiety in a child?
Separation anxiety affects every child at some stage of their development, some more than others. Overcoming this anxiety can be challenging – so how do you cope with it?
Separation anxiety symptoms
Is your child afraid of strangers? When you leave them even for a moment, are they panicking, trying to find you, and protesting? They don’t want to attend day-care? Do they want to stay by your side all the time? Most mothers can probably relate to this. While up to the age of three such behavior is something natural and desirable, as they indicate the child’s proper Emotional development, at an older age it could mean possible developmental deficits.
Separation anxiety in a child from the parent or guardian, becomes a serious problem at that stage. If your child is more than three years old and is still showing signs of separation anxiety, it’s worth working with them in order to overcome it.
When does separation anxiety occur?
Separation anxiety is closely correlated with the ability to move around independently and the awareness of their own separation from the parent. Each baby has a desire in them to Explore the world and new places. The world is interesting, but also a little scary as it holds many dangers.
In a way, the child is aware of its vulnerability, and that’s why they cling so much to their mother, in whose arms they can take refuge and feel a sense of safety. Therefore, their anxious reactions are understandable. However, proper Emotional development requires that they gradually overcome the fear of being left alone.
Another factor contributing to the persistence of separation anxiety is lacking a sense of time, which is a characteristic in babies and toddlers. To them, a minute feels like forever. In addition, they lack the understanding that if someone ceases to be visible, that doesn’t mean that they cease to exist. Therefore, separation anxiety sometimes takes on completely different levels.
How to overcome separation anxiety?
When overcoming separation anxiety, it is very important to introduce changes gradually. If up to this point you’ve always had your child near you, do not suddenly break this habit. The child will certainly react to sudden changes with intense anxiety. The key is to get them used to independence in Small steps. For example, give up sharing one bed, to eventually be able to return to work part-time, enroll the child in a nursery or to arrange a babysitter to look after them.
Changes should be planned in advance and implemented in order, not all at once. After one year of age, it’s worth giving the child a toy or teddy that will act as a so-called object of attachment. Such an item increases the child’s sense of safety at times of separation from their parents.