Young children are prone to a variety of disorders. However, it is separation anxiety that continues to baffle experts the most. The phenomena starts from the age of seven months to two years, but can progress to beyond in extreme cases. Symptoms of separation anxiety vary but this disorder is often manifested by a child crying and appearing uncomfortable if separated from loved ones. Yet, for many experts in child psychology, this condition is just a normal phase in childhood development and should only be worrisome if it continues for a long time.
How it Starts
Babies younger than six months often have no problems warming up to their caregivers. This is so, even if the primary caregiver is not the biological parent. More so, it is the parents who often develop an anxiety disorder when the baby seems to warm up more to strangers than to them. As the kids learn more about themselves and their surroundings, they begin to identify with certain people. The connection, for instance, between the mother and the baby becomes intense during breastfeeding, as the baby tends to feel more secure. To get this security, they tend to be alarmed when the parent is not nearby and will always throw tantrums when the parent is not around. Babies do not have the same sense of time as adults, and will get anxious whenever the caregiver is not around, as they cannot fathom how long it will take before they are reunited.
Stress in Children
At around one year, as the kids grow more independent, they begin to display a sense of agitation whenever their parents attempt to leave them. This can happen even when the caregiver tries to leave for the next room or drop the baby in daycare. Children are often seen clinging to their mothers as if they are afraid of being in the hands of strangers . Separation anxiety may happen any time from six months, but there are cases of it going up to four years. There are also instances of some who do not develop it at all.
In extreme cases, where some kids display separation anxiety even into their elementary school years, there is a need for an intervention. Should similar symptoms exist in older children, it is often an indication that all is not well in their family and social life. According to experts, it is important for parents to probe the real cause of anxiety as there might be issues of abuse and bullying involved.
How to cope
Coping with separation anxiety in your child is highly individualized. However, there are some strategies that have been proven successful. For a start, it is essential to understand that this is a normal growth process and there is no need to be alarmed when your child throws tantrums just because you are leaving. If you rush back to the room whenever your kids bursts into cries, the child might form a habit of crying to avoid separation. To most mothers, this is the most gratifying era in their child’s growth and is an indication that the child has finally become attached to them. During this period, a mother is likely to become emotionally charged and may often feel guilty about leaving the baby behind while tending to her chores. This guilt, according to experts, is understandable, but caution should be taken to ensure that it does not become overwhelming. Children need to be made to understand your routine in order to take comfort in the fact that you always return to the house after leaving in the morning.
To ease anxiety in your child, it is important to make sure that goodbyes are not emotional. Timing is the key. Ensure that your child is fully satisfied before you leave the house. It is also important that you practice adequately so that the child can be accustomed to your absence without breaking into cries whenever you are not around. It is also advisable that you be firm in your schedules. Always part lovingly with your child, but ensure that you stick to your schedule, as this will reassure them later. It is crucial that you leave your child in trusted hands. Ensure that the child is familiar with the caregiver as this will help ease their anxiety.