Parenting

Causes and Treatment of Separation Anxiety In Children

It is normal for infants and toddlers to be close to their parents / caregivers and separation from parents can trigger feelings of anxiousness in kids. However, if children are clingy, refuse to leave the parents, or are afraid of unfamiliar places , this is known as separation anxiety disorder. For a person to be classified as having separation anxiety disorder, he/she should be older than 14 months and should be having these symptoms for more than 1 month.

Children having separation anxiety disorder may refuse to leave their parents/caregivers and go to school. They may have difficulty sleeping without them during the night. Children may also have fears that their parents will not return or that their parents will be lost forever. This can affect the child’s academic and social life.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety In Children:

The following are the symptoms of separation anxiety in children:

  • Clinging to the parents/caregiver
  • Difficulty in falling asleep during the night, without the parents
  • Fear that the parents would be lost/involved in an accident
  • Refusal to attend camps, or stay in friend’s houses
  • Symptoms such as stomach ache, headache due to fear of separation

Separation anxiety in children may be caused due to death of a loved one or constantly changing environments. Change of schools or houses may cause this disorder. Overprotective parents who discourage playtime, mingling with other kids, may also be the factors behind separation anxiety disorder.

Separation Anxiety Disorder Treatment:

If the signs of separation anxiety disorder are mild, then gentle reassurance and explanation by parents can help. Instilling feelings of security in the child, talking and counseling by parents can help to reduce the symptoms.

Parents should explain that they would come back to visit the child and that the separation is not permanent. Initially, parents should keep the period of separation  short and they can increase the time gradually. This will make the child accustomed to the separation.

If separation anxiety is severe, consulting a child psychiatrist is recommended. Physical tests would be conducted to rule out health problems. After interview and other assessment tools, the disorder can be diagnosed.

Once the disorder is diagnosed, psychotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy or family therapy can be undertaken to treat this condition.

1 response to Causes and Treatment of Separation Anxiety In Children

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