A foster mother once told me about the moment she tried to leave the baby she was taking care of at the church nursery and the child reached out and clung to her for the first time. Although spending weeks with her, he had never expressed a predilection for her until that particular day. He was not the cause of her excitement. She understood what it meant when he began to see her as his “person” and began to feel secure around her. She was aware that letting him stay would also demonstrate to him that it was safe for him to be in the nursery and would give them both an opportunity to put her word that she would always return into effect.
Depending on the cause, child separation anxiety can be problematic. That can be endearing if all it represents is a close bond with their carer. Yet, parents must make a decision regarding what to do if the reason is more significant.
Here are five signs that your child has separation anxiety and some things to consider helping them through it.
1. Your Baby Cries When You Leave the Room
Age-related milestones can occasionally cause separation anxiety in children. For instance, while their caregiver is not there in the room, a baby between the ages of four and eight months may begin to exhibit signs of worry. When a loved one departs, they might begin to cry or exhibit indications of sadness. This is because kids are still learning how to identify familiar faces and items and how to develop sentiments for them. They still do not understand that something may be present even though they are unable to see it.
This is a great opportunity to demonstrate to your child that you will always turn up. Enjoy this period in your child’s life by playing peek-a-boo with them. Older kids understand that their caregiver will always come back. They come to understand that the locations and people their caregiver trusts are safe for them as their trust is built up.
2. They Get Stressed When Seeing New Places and Faces
A child may experience anxiety when it’s time to travel to new areas. When attending a new event, kids could be reluctant to leave the house, congregate in a corner, or act out in tantrums or meltdowns. One of the most frequent sources of anxiety is the unknown. Preparing your child as much as you can will help you combat this. Tell them what to anticipate. This can involve displaying to them images of the location they are visiting and the locals, outlining activities and expectations for behavior while there, and, if feasible, providing a preview of the location without the need for separation.
Considerably, this is the purpose of orientations in schools. It could be helpful if we apply the same strategy to unfamiliar locations that our children might visit on their own. The secret is to plan. It’s also crucial to understand what to anticipate from new acquaintances. Prior discussions about what is expected of them and those around them can help them feel more empowered and ultimately keep them safe while you are not there. Be truthful. They may feel less anxious if you explain to them why you are leaving them in a strange environment or with strangers, why you believe in them, why you believe in the people who will be taking care of them, and what to do if something goes wrong.
3. Bedtime Is a Battle
Children often have a very tough time going to bed. Even adults experience tension before bed. Dreams are mysterious and even frightening. When the house is silent and it is dark, it feels like another world entirely. The idea of spending the night alone can make one anxious. Tears and furious behavior may be indications that your child is having trouble sleeping, as well as refusal to go to bed and difficulty falling asleep.
Anxiety at night is best managed by consistency and predictability. Every time you have a successful bedtime, the good feelings grow, and eventually your child is prepared to fall asleep without any concern.
4. Negative Experiences Have Great Impact
Separation anxiety disorder is defined by “developmentally inappropriate and excessive worry around separation from home or from those to whom the individual is related,” according to studies. The symptoms of separation anxiety may appear suddenly, suddenly be acute, or gradually get more intense. Youngsters who struggle with separation anxiety may have been influenced negatively in the past. A bad experience might be the issue if your kid finds it extremely difficult to be apart from you, if they don’t want to leave the house, or if they get queasy when it’s time to leave.
As we are reunited with our children, it is crucial to check in with them. It’s crucial to prepare them, and the follow-up is equally crucial. Speak to your children about their experiences and reassure them that you are always available if they ever feel unsafe, something distressing occurs, or they become perplexed by something or someone.
We need to maintain the lines of communication open, just like with so many other facets of parenting. This may also entail making a therapist or other trusted adult available to our children.
One method to make sure our kids are safe is to take them out of the setting entirely, if that is appropriate. Yet, the key word here is “appropriate,” as removal isn’t always the best course of action. One of the traps that parents can fall into is rewarding unhelpful behaviors related to separation anxiety. Our children may feel less secure if we give in to temper tantrums or unfounded illness claims. This is because it gives them complete control. They depend on us to assist them, to help them navigate their situation, and to assure them that they are always protected.
5. Your Child Has Experienced Trauma
As parents, we are unable to have complete influence over our kids’ lives. Not every unfortunate event that occurs to them is due to negligent parenting or mishaps. Our children may occasionally suffer trauma due to events beyond our control.
Trauma is a bad event, but it’s really different from a miscommunication or just something your kid didn’t like. Trauma is far more serious and calls for greater assistance.
Caregivers are not always aware of or accountable for what their children have gone through, similar to the foster mom we previously discussed. It is our duty to do everything in our power to care for, support, and love them. When children attach to a person or location, they are telling us a lot about their separation anxiety. It’s because to them, that person or location symbolizes safety. What appears safe on occasion isn’t. Sometimes, what appears safe actually is safe.
You are undoubtedly the type of parent or caretaker who wants the best for your children if you are reading this post. This implies that you serve as their haven. They are clinging to you because they feel comfortable with you if they are exhibiting symptoms of separation anxiety and/or trauma. This is advantageous. The next stage is to enlist experts in order to assist your child in overcoming the trauma, healing, and moving on.