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Separation anxiety in children

What is separation anxiety?

Separation anxiety refers to this emotional problem of difficulty letting people go. In this psychological condition, which mostly affects children but can happen to adults as well, a person fears to be left alone by the person they feel emotionally connected to. They fear getting hurt or harmed in the absence of their nanny or parents.

Why can it be more serious than you think?

This can stunt your child’s mental health and cause them stress and depression. It can make them anti-social and lonely. It can make it difficult to carry out regular tasks like going to work, school, or social events, which can affect one's ability to perform well in school or at work.

separation anxiety in children

Its signs

1. Unreasonable codependency- Your child may show signs of extreme clinginess. They won’t leave your side even at night.

2. Fear of being alone- they will always watch out if they are being left alone and grow anxious if that is the case, even if you are in the next room.

3. Refusal to play with others after you start to leave, refusing to sleep in your own bed

4. Scared of going to school and not wanting to be in any place without a family member.

5.Physical signs include headache, stomach problems due to stress, puking clammy hands or fainting.

6. Constantly crying and feeling sad or feeling extremely quiet and disturbed in public.

7. Making excuses to not leave home.

8. anxiety -your child feels anxious when you are away from them.

What are its causes


More times, kids who have a strong emotional connection typically feel more at ease and secure, whereas kids with an insecure attachment style could feel more uneasy and upset.

Other times, the fear of the kid stems from neglect from their parents, like being away from them due to workload or not emotionally available to them when needed.

Abuse, strictness shown by parents, not letting them be childish and always expecting them to behave and meet their expectations can lead to insecurity in a child.

Constant fighting among parents is another cause of separation anxiety. It cripples the child to think that either of the parents can leave them, which makes them scared and worried.

parents' fight affect children's mental health

2. Past trauma

Separation anxiety can also affect adults, so if someone has been neglected by their loved ones in the past, they tend to become restless at the thought of being left by them.

Trauma can cause people to hold unfavorable ideas about their protection. They fear rejection and this leads to insecurity in relationships, which makes them more suspicious and clingy.

They fear that attachment will only hurt them.

past trauma and nightmares

3. Environment

The environment in which the child grows up changes them and has more effects than usually perceived. Constantly moving to other places, neighbors and surroundings or some life-changing decision can worsen separation anxiety.

Another important factor to note here is cultural significance in a child's life. In some cultures it is a stigma to have separation anxiety where they feel ashamed of their child, especially in public.

Controlling parents can harm their children's mental health and make them less receptive to their needs.

How tackle it?

Building an environment where the child feels safe. Making them trustful of their surroundings. It's crucial to build trust with the child in order to lessen their anxiety. Spend time with the child, engage in their favorite activities, and have open and honest chats with them.

  • You should make them feel extremely secure by letting them know you are there for them.

  • Let them do what they want to do and let them learn from their mistakes. Teach them to be more confident.

making safe environment for children


There is so much that goes into your child’s mind that they need to let it out in the open. Children's speech is often laughed at by adults and ignored by them. Ensure that they know you will come back to them and that they will be fine alone.

  • Praise them for little accomplishments, such as finishing lunch or doing well in school. To make the child feel independent, allow him or her to make small decisions on their own.

Validating their feelings

Listen to what the child has to say to you when they express their feelings. Take their worries seriously and comfort them that it's okay to have feelings and eventually they will overcome them.

listen to children's feelings

Take them out to play

Keep the child's mind and body busy by engaging them in physical activities. In the playground, they will be able to observe and learn from other children while also making new friends.

  • Other than that if you feel the conditions of your child worsening seek professional help to cope better with separation.

 playing outside lessens anxiety and stress


When a child experiences separation anxiety, they think they will never see their parents/family/ provider again, their providers might get hurt, or they themselves might get hurt. This shouldn't carry any pejorative connotations. Your child just needs relaxation from the constant anxiety they feel when they are left alone. It's a slow and gradual process, but be patient with children.

Increase the amount of time the child is away from you gradually. Start with brief separations and lengthen them gradually. Be understanding and supporting of your child and show them that you love them unconditionally and build in them a sense of safety and security by being empathetic and supportive of them.

About the author

Priti Kumari Rajak is a new content writer with an English major. She was born on May 26, 2003, in Kharagpur, West Bengal, and is currently in Bhubaneswar for her graduation. She reads a lot and could probably talk about books all day. She is always eager to learn new skills and never cowers away from hard work. She is a dedicated and orderly individual who has a passion for writing.

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