Different Ways To Handle Separation Anxiety For Babies
Photo source: http://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/starting-preschool/separation-anxiety/
It is actually normal for a child to be anxious when you bid goodbye. It’s a normal developmental stage. However, there are coping mechanisms that help children let go of separation anxiety easily. There are serious cases that lead to Separation Anxiety Disorder. This kind of condition necessitates professional help.
But before things go worse, parents can do a lot of ways to avoid critical cases.
- Separation anxiety among children: what’s normal and what’s not
- Separation anxiety disorder symptoms
- Common causes of separation anxiety disorder in children
Separation anxiety among children: what’s normal and what’s not
During early stages of childhood, tantrums, crying, or clinginess are just natural and healthy reactions in terms of separation. Children’s separation anxiety usually start before the child turns 1 and could appear again until he’s 4 years old. However, the intensity levels of separation anxiety could vary for every child.
Parents can ease their children’s separation anxiety by gradually and gently setting limits. This requires patience and consistency.
However, there are kids who still experience separation anxiety no matter what parents do. These kids continue or recur their separation anxiety intensely during the elementary years. You can know that the problem is already critical if it lasts for months and not just days and if it already affects his activities and social relationships at school.
How to Ease normal separation anxiety among children
For kids with the normal kind of separation anxiety, these steps can ease the process:
- Practice separation.
At first, leave your kid with the caregiver for short distances and brief intervals.
- Schedule each separation after feedings or naps.
Babies’ tendency to feel separation anxiety heightens when they are hungry or tired.
- Develop your “goodbye” ritual.
Goodbye rituals could be as simple as a goodbye kiss or a goodbye wave through your home or school’s window. No matter what your goodbye ritual is, all of them are reassuring.
- Let him keep familiar objects/surroundings and if possible, make the new surroundings familiar to him.
You can have your child’s sitter go to your house. And when your kid is away, allow him to bring a familiar object.
- Have a regular primary caregiver.
It’s important to keep only one caregiver on the job.
- Practice leaving without stalling.
Let your child know that you’re leaving and that you’ll just return. As you go, do not stall.
- Minimize his exposure to scary television.
Children are less likely to turn anxious if they are not overly exposed to scary scenes on screen.
- Do not give in.
Make your child feel reassured that he’ll just be fine and everything will be okay. Set limits to adjust accordingly.
Photo source: http://www.parents.com/baby/development/separation-anxiety/
Separation anxiety disorder symptoms
Now, let’s talk about the serious case of separation anxiety disorder. The normal separation anxiety could just share similar symptoms with this more critical case. It can be tough to distinguish between the two. However, let’s try to tackle the key differences. The first determinant is the intensity level of the fears—that is if these fears disable him to function properly in the social setting and disable him to do normal activities while he’s away. If your child fakes sickness just to avoid playing with his classmates or just to get sent home, that could be a sign.
Worries and fears: usual symptoms of separation anxiety disorder
- The fear that something bad will happen to his loved one.
Some kids may be anxious because they care about their loved ones, and they don’t like the thought of them getting hurt or sick while they’re away.
- Worry that some unpredicted events will cause permanent separation.
Some kids also fear getting lost or kidnapped which could lead them to be permanently separated from their parents.
- Nightmares on separation.
Kids with serious separation anxiety may dream about their separation anxiety problems.
Common symptoms of separation anxiety disorder: refusals and sickness
- Refuse or is hesitant to go to school.
It can be a critical problem if the kid already does anything just to stay home.
- Sleeping problems
Children with serious separation anxiety may end up having troubles with sleep because of their fear and the possible nightmares on separation.
- Often get clingy
If the children always shadow you around the house or clings to your leg or arm when you try to step out, that could be a sign too.
Common causes of separation anxiety disorder in children
The following are common causes of separation anxiety disorder in children:
- Change in environment.
Children who have shifted school, address or situation could feel separation anxiety.
Loss of a loved one, even a pet, could trigger the issue.
- Over-protective parent.
Being over-protective could lead your child to more harm than good.
The tips below can enable you to make a supportive and stable setting for your child:
- Educate yourself on separation anxiety disorder.
Once you become more knowledgeable about the matter, you can craft a better approach to help your kid out.
- Listen to your child and respect his feelings.
Be available to listen to him. The thought of having someone listen to you is therapeutic.
- Talk to your child about the problem
Empathize with your child and remind him of how he was successful in the last separation time.
- Anticipate further separation difficulty.
Just be ready in case more twisted cases occur. The transitioning points could take time. Be patient and be anticipative of future problems.
Tips to help children with separation anxiety feel secure and safe
- Set a consistent routine for each day.
Children are more comfortable with a routine that triggers predictability. Your children must be part of the discussion in case your family’s schedule needs to be changed.
- Set firm limits.
Make your child feel that you understand him. However, you must gently remind him that there are certain laws in the household that they have to follow.
- Give him choices.
When your child is given the freedom to choose, he will feel a better sense of comfort and security. He can feel that he can start being in control to some extent.
Tips to encourage healthy separation and independence among children
- Keep yourself calm during the verge of separation.
When your child always sees you calm, he’s also likely to stay cool.
- Encourage your child to participate in activities
Nobody can encourage their children better this way than the parents. Encourage him to join healthy physical and social activities in school and always be his cheerleader.
- Help your child who’s been absent from school just to return home as quickly as possible.
Let your children know and realize that he is able to survive the separation. Remind him that he’s strong and he can enjoy the outside world even he’s gone briefly without you.
- Praise your kid’s efforts.
Praising your child develops his confidence and makes him feel capable of doing things. Those who have serious separation anxiety cases are usually those with low levels of self-esteem.
These are some of the main things parents should keep in mind in dealing with their children’s separation anxiety problems. It could be challenging at first, but once everything is successfully arranged, you kid will surely learn to adapt and learn to have fun in school without worrying about being temporarily separated from you. If your child has been suffering from a serious case of separation anxiety for a long time, you may consider asking for an expert advice.