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An Insight into Separation Anxiety


Understanding the treatment and causes to develop coping strategies for separation anxiety


Separation anxiety is very common and often seen in young children. The most common age for separation anxiety is when the child is an infant from between 6 months to a toddler age of 3 years. Separation anxiety at this age is deemed ‘normal’ and is part of a child’s development during their early years where they are learning to be separated from their carer. It can become a psychological condition, known as Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD), creating excessive anxiety over being separated from home or from somebody they have a strong emotional attachment with. The emotional attachment is usually with a parent or carer. Separation anxiety disorder is an extreme show of stress, anxiety, fear and distress and can continue in to childhood and teenage years. Understanding treatment and causes in coping with anxiety can be difficult, but it can be overcome.

Be brave! This is a process that all parents have to go through…





When adults first experience their children’s separation anxiety, it can be distressing for them too. Leaving your child for the first time at 2yrs old is unlikely to be easy because they have never been apart from you. The situation will be handled better by the child if they are left for a short space of time at first, then gradually increase the lengths of periods while they slowly settle in to their new routine. Anxiety symptoms may be crying, screaming, reaching their arms out to you, or refusing to let go of you. Be brave! This is a process that all parents have to go through and although it can be upsetting, it is part of your child’s development. Learning how to deal with separation anxiety is not understood by text book, it is very much dependent on you and your child and should be dealt with in a way that is unique and workable for you both.

They do not want to go to school; they will create excuses, perhaps say that they feel unwell…





Separation anxiety disorder is a more extreme version of normal separation anxiety and can have a major impact in your child’s life and also the family. Typical anxiety symptoms with children who have this disorder, may be that they do not want to go to school; they will create excuses, perhaps say that they feel unwell or that someone is not being kind to them. They may refuse to get dressed or ready for school or even hide their school uniform from you. It is important that you inform the school of the situation so that they can support your child and help them to feel more comfortable while they are away from home. In other circumstances, they may not want to go to a friend’s house, someone who they would have been perfectly happy to spend time with before. They may not want to spend time at their grandparent’s house, away from the parent that they anxiously want to be close to. Identifying treatments and causes to help your child, will equip you to understand and create security when they need it. Separation Anxiety Disorder is usually diagnosed from the following anxiety symptoms:

  • Unusual and excessive worry about a possible event. For example: a family death, major illness, a disaster, a car accident, something that will harm them or the people they love.
  • Recurrent extreme distress thinking about an upcoming event, especially when it is outside their comfort zone (the home).
  • Refusal to go to school, to a friend’s house, family event – or outside of the home, without the person they are emotionally attached to.
  • Fear of being on their own, whether at home or elsewhere.
  • Reoccurring nightmares of being alone or detached from their carer.
  • Complaining of physical symptoms – headache, tummy ache, nausea. These can be an excuse but also can be physical anxiety symptoms.
  • Difficulty in sleeping or going to sleep. Increased anxiety in bed alone.

It could have been something very small, but to them it was huge…




Separation anxiety disorder is when a child suffers from feelings of intense worry when they are not with their parent or carer. Coping with anxiety as a child can be incredibly hard because they do not fully understand why they feel like that or how to deal with separation anxiety without the person they are emotionally attached to, supporting them. The causes cannot be easily defined but research suggests that the child may have had to deal with a situation (without the parent present) which made them feel very anxious. It could have been something very small, but to them it was huge, their fears and worries that they will have to face something which would recreate the same feelings of vulnerability and unease, is almost too much to bear.

It teaches them how to deal with their worries, concerns and anxieties…





Some parents feel that coping with anxiety is something that they should be able to deal with. However, if you feel that your child has developed anxiety symptoms of Separation Anxiety Disorder, they may need extra professional support to help them through it. The professional support available will also help you to understand the best way to deal with it, and advise you on strategies and methods to care for your child. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (also known as CBT) is one of the excellent therapies that has extensive proven success with children who have separation anxiety disorder. It teaches them how to deal with their worries, concerns and anxieties – to understand what is excessive worry and what is normal. Through talking and creative writing and drawing, over a short space of time, CBT will lessen the anxiety that your child experiences and help them to develop coping mechanisms. They are many professional therapies which will help your child. If you feel they need extra support, speak to your GP for advice.





Do you sometimes feel anxious? Does it control your life in certain circumstances? Do you worry about your child and whether they will overcome their separation anxiety? Our psychics and clairsentients and skilled in picking up anxiety and emotional issues. If you need guidance in this area, call our compassionate and gifted team at TheCircle.




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PUBLISHED: 18 April 2016


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