Separation Anxiety in Children

Posted by Aantharya Counseling on Wed, May 30, 2012  
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Separation Anxiety among children

It is quite natural for children to exhibit anxiety as crying or throwing tantrums. Usually separation anxiety occurs at the age of 8 months to 3 years. When a child is separated from the parent for going to play home or school, the situation arouses anxiety in a child. This is common among children leaving to school for the first time.  The anxiety among children changes from phase to phase. Let us see what the causes are and how a parent can deal such situation.


Causes for anxiety:

  • Over protective parents


  • Insecurity  or fear of unrealistic situation


  • Apprehension about the new environment


  • Low self esteem


  • Pain or any kind of physical ailment


Please remember that there can be other factors or combination of factors to cause anxiety among children.  The causes are required to know to take an appropriate step rather than to know “why” it is so. A parent can take preventive measures by proper parenting approaches. For children already undergoing such situation parents need to be very patience and learn to deal the situation.


Methods to Deal Separation Anxiety:

  • Parents need to understand that a child is very observant about the words and expression of the parent.  It is not right to express the emotional tension in front of the child. The child will wrongly interpret the situation. This can cause anxiety among a child and may not be old enough to express its feeling.


  • Parents who are very over protective unknowingly create fear or insecurity in a child. Children need to be taken to different environment such as park, social function, celebration, friends /relative house etc. This will help the child to easily adapt to the external environment easily and anxious feeling will come down.


  • Parents need to play hide and seek from the early months of the child. Just hiding behind a curtain and appearing in few minutes will assure the child that the parent is nearby. This will enhance trust in the child.


  • Make your child mentally prepared to go to play home. Take to the play home or school and spend few hours during the initial days. This will make the child feel secured and adapt to the new environment. Similarly show other neighborhood elder children going to school and make it a habit to waive hand. This will ensure the child that it is something like a happier occasion and relieve them from unrealistic thoughts.


  • Belief systems of the parents also influence the child a lot. Many parents do not tell the child about the school or play home. It is a wrong assumption. Please tell your child that you will be back in few hours. Keep up your words. Be at the right time to pick up your child. Even a delay of five minutes might cause anxiety in a child. This will give an unpleasant feeling to the child.


  • Being on time to pick up will build trust in a child. Once in a week surprise your child with some small gift.


  • Many parents leave to work without telling “bye” to children. Parents fear that the child will start crying and in order to avoid they just escape when the child is inattentive or keen on playing. This will increase fear or insecurity in a child.


  • Bring confidence in your child in each step by encouraging and appreciating. Don’t bring fear in them by keep using the words”NO”.


  • The most required quality for a parent to deal separation anxiety is to maintain calmness and being confident that it s a phase in the development of a child.


The intensity of anxiety varies from child to child. Parents need to accept the situation and learn to cope the different phases of child development. 




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