Separation Anxiety

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Separation anxiety is a normal stage of emotional development that starts when babies begin to understand that things and people exist even when they're not present - a concept called object permanence. At certain stages, most babies or toddlers become upset at the prospect or reality of being separated from their parent. If you think about separation anxiety in evolutionary terms, it makes sense: A defenseless baby would naturally get upset over being taken away from the person who protects and cares for him. Separation anxiety can get frustrating for both children and parents which is a common phase in childhood as they fear abandonment.

The symptoms of separation anxiety are as follows:

  • Throwing tantrums
  • Crying
  • Clinginess
  • Nightmares
  • Refusal to go to school
  • Complaints of physical illness

What a parent can do to aid the child to overcome separation anxiety:
  • Developing a sense of security and training them to be without parents occasionally can be helpful
  • Arrange childcare with people familiar to the child. If you have to leave your baby - when you return to work, for example - try leaving him with people he already knows, like his father, grandmother, or aunt. The child may still protest, but he might adjust to your absence more easily when surrounded by well-known faces.
  • Let your child get to know a new caregiver first.- If you need to leave your child with someone he doesn't know, give him a chance to get to know his caregiver while you're still around.
  • Following a ritual - Deciding on a ritual and sticking to it every time you say goodbye. A predictable routine helps your child build trust in you and in his own ability to get through the separation.
  • Keeping calm during separation
  • Setting limits