People often think that childhood is one of the most blissful periods of anyone’s lifetime. While adult life brings in stress of coping of with the rat race of the ambitious world, securing good grades and getting jobs, a baby only has to eat and sleep. How difficult can it be right? But contrary to what people might say, the fact that babies also suffer from anxiety has been vastly ignored by mass media which considers babies to be bundles of joy which fill your day with happiness and warm cuddles.
If you look forward to getting to know your child better by coming to terms with the fact that your baby has separation anxiety, we are here to help you out to sort the dilemma. Don’t lose hope as we would also give you some tips on how you can cope up with your kid’s separation anxiety so that parenting comes naturally and you are prepared for anxiety attacks on your child’s behalf, if and when that happens.
What is Separation Anxiety?
All babies tend to cling on to their mothers or their primary carers. They would cry and bawl their eyes out as soon as the mother figure leaves their side or the nursery. These extremes of emotion are caused by the fact that they fear any kind of separation from their care givers not only in a surrounding they are unfamiliar with but also when they are taken away or have to spend time away from their mothers. They feel uncertain that what would happen if the person who cares for them 24/7 isn’t there anymore. This feeling of anxiety and uncertainty has been termed by psychologists to be separation anxiety. Separation anxiety in children can start from as early as when they are eight months old and if left unchecked can plague them well beyond six years of age.
What are the Symptoms of Separation Anxiety?
Here are some of the symptoms which can help you identify separation anxiety in your child. Make sure you are alert enough to notice them before it’s too late:
- A crippling fear and unwillingness to be alone even if for a few brief moments.
- Bed wetting is common in babies but if it extends beyond the 6 year old period and only occurs when you are not there, there is something you need to be concerned about.
- When your child suffers from separation anxiety, he would either plead with you to stay by his side and if nothing else works, he might even throw temper tantrums.
- Children suffering from separation anxiety often learn to take on the roles of protectors who would save the mother figure from any harm and trouble and want to be in their vicinity all the time because they are convinced of the fact that something bad is going to happen, in case they wish to leave.
- An ardent and emphatic refusal to go to sleep unless and until their mothers are at their bedside, soothing them
- Separation anxiety can also manifest itself into physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach aches whenever they have to leave for school.
- A persistent fear that something or someone is going to hurt them if their mothers or care givers are not around.
- Frequent and grotesque nightmares every time you ask them to sleep in a room all by themselves
- Children might not be willing to perform the basic activities required for them such as going out to play with kids of their age group or going to school since they are not willing to spend time apart from their mothers.
What are the Causes of Separation Anxiety in children?
It is a misconception that only children who are young and in their babyhood phase suffer from separation anxiety. Such anxiety might be a cause of moving from one house to another, getting into a new school, traumatic events in their lives such as the death of a pet or a family member or even a particularly taxing disease. Separation anxiety can also be passed on genetically as the kids whose family members have a history of anxiety tend to be more prone towards anxiety that other kids normally would be. Last but not the least, if you are overprotective as a parent, you need to brace yourself for the fact that your child will be anxious whenever you leave him alone.
What can you do to reduce the risks of Separation anxiety in your child?
- Take them to different places such as their grandmother’s house or the day care. Give them the permission to bring along a favorite toy or a blanket. As they grow familiar with other people and different surroundings, they would learn to cope up with separation.
- Whenever you part from your child, leave them with the assurance that you two will be meeting soon enough.
- If you wish to make your child transition from your care to that of a babysitter, you must first let them spend some time alone together.
- You can play peek-a-boo to let them know that even if they can’t see you, you will always be there for them.
- Reward them when you get reunited by spending some quality time with them, reading their favorite book or playing a game with them.
- Don’t stay back whenever your baby starts crying but rather kiss them and hand them over to their caregiver. If you start comforting them, they will resort to this tactic always so as to keep you close to themselves.
- Finally, try to minimize separation as much as possible since they are kids and need to depend on someone even if they don’t suffer from separation anxiety.
Do all the kids have Separation Anxiety or is it limited to some specific kinds of children?
Yes, they do. It might be hard for you as a parent to digest the fact that your sweet child can be suffering from something as horrific as separation anxiety but as soon as you accept it, the better. It takes a lot of time for babies to learn ‘object permanence’ or the idea that even if they can’t see it, an object can be there in the periphery of their vision all the time. Similarly, children begin to get stressed when they see that their parents are not there anymore. It takes time for them to learn that no one is going to leave them and that even if they can’t see you, you are somewhere out there. Give them time and they will quickly cross the threshold of this phase of anxiety with some help from you.
Your child would eventually grow up and wouldn’t need you any longer. Be patient with them while they learn to deal with their separation anxiety and treasure the precious moments together!