Childhood Separation Anxiety Disorder

Does your child have Childhood Separation Anxiety?

Is your child:

  • Refusing to go to school
  • Having trouble sleeping or nightmares?
  • Complaining about frequent stomachaches or other physical problems?
  • Afraid to be away from you?
  • Worrying about you being harmed?
  • Having some much worry that it is interfering with your work or daily activities?
  • Afraid they might come home and you won’t there?
  • Forcing you to alter your activities or work schedule because of the anxiety?

Is this your child? If so than he or she is most likely suffering from Childhood Separation Anxiety Disorder. Well, that’s almost true. What if your child is seven months old? What if they are four and just started preschool? It is important to consider both the circumstances and your child’s age when evaluating how much of a problem the anxiety actually is.

Click here if you are interested in learning about treatment for separation anxiety

There is a distinction between childhood separation anxiety and childhood separation anxiety disorder. The information below will help you to decide when to seek help.

Infant or Baby Separation Anxiety

Infants normally will show signs of distress during the latter half of the first year of life, the second and sometimes third year of life as well. This can be normal and is not necessarily a disorder. Actually, baby separation anxiety is a sign of healthy attachment to the mom, so this is a good thing!

In fact, if we didn’t seem some anxiety in infants during that time when their mom left it would be of more of a concern. However, if you feel your baby’s anxious behavior is excessive and is not easily alleviated you may need to seek professional help. Trust your instinct, it may be a sign that your child is in some kind of physical distress. Checking with a medical doctor at this point if you have concerns is a good idea.

Separation Anxiety in Toddlers

Separation Anxiety is often seen around toddler years and preschool ages as well. Children may act distressed or upset at this age when separated from you but this usually is temporary. If your child can be involved in other activities or the separation anxiety goes away soon after you leave than this is probably not separation anxiety disorder.

Many children experience symptoms of anxiety when separated from their caregiver, especially when they are going to preschool or kindergarten. Moms experience separation anxiety too! This is healthy and normal, but watch your anxiety! Any of your anxiety can add to childhood separation anxiety. Does your child have Childhood Separation Anxiety?

If your child's anxiety is not disruptive to your life or your child's daily routine it may not be too concerning.

What if you leave your child at preschool, they cry for three hours after you leave, they won’t participate in play activities and it occurs for several months?

It is time to seek some help. If you feel like the anxiety you are seeing is a more severe form of childhood separation anxiety or you still feel unsure contact a professional. Sometimes in two to three sessions, you will have some solid techniques that help to alleviate the stress your child is going through. Therapy can also provide you with the peace of mind to know it isn’t a major mental health issue.

Even in the most serious of cases therapy is very likely to help with childhood separation anxiety. Just make sure if you seek help that you find a professional that specializes in, or has experience working with young children.



Childhood separation anxiety in older children

If your child is five or six and separation anxiety develops suddenly, seems severe and disruptive, or has lasted throughout the toddler years well into kindergarten you should probably be concerned. A good way to tell if it’s a problem is to ask yourself if it is interfering in your child’s ability to be happy and successful at home, socially or academically.

If your child avoids pleasant activates that other children engage in, is afraid to go to school, or frequently expresses irrational fears about you dying or leaving them, the anxiety should be evaluated by a professional. The good news is most kids with separation anxiety disorder who get help are just fine!

Click here if you are interested in learning about treatment for separation anxiety

Click here if you are interested in learning about sleep problems related to childhoo separation anxiety

Click here if you are interested in learning about causes of childhood separation anxiety

Teenage Separation Anxiety

Teenage and young adult separation anxiety, although less common, can also be an issue. This anxiety can prevent teens from establishing the independence and self reliance that is so critical at this point.

Learn more about teenage separation anxiety here

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Medical information obtained from our website is not intended as a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you have a problem, you should consult a healthcare provider.