Separation Anxiety can be stressful for both the parent and the child.
This is commonly experienced during the toddler years. Although common, and considered as part of the child’s growing pains, for some, it can become difficult to deal with. Overtime, it can turn into a disorder. But with patience and proper support, this can be relieved and get over with as the child grows independent and confident.
This anxiety is brought about by fear and feeling of insecurity of being separated from a familiar place or person, mostly it’s the separation from the child’s mother or the father who’s been with the child round the clock, 24/7.
It is when the familiar smell, the familiar touch, and the usual sight of the guardian or the familiar environment, or when a child has undergone a major transition such as changing schools, or an environment, or a death of a pet or loved one or being confined in a hospital.
The child, to cope, usually cry or worse, throws a tantrum to show the anxiety, which is normal because this is how they can only express their emotion at such young age. So, when left unaddressed or dealt without any coping and understanding strategies, this gives distress to the child and without the family knowing, it could lead to physical symptoms from tummy problems to headache to vomiting and even psychological disorder.
What Separation Anxiety does to a child
As mentioned, this type of anxiety gives stress and eventually disorientation. So much so, some children cannot concentrate on any activities and will only make them more agitated when handled with indifference. For children that are in their school age, this could also distract them from school activities and affect their performance.
Often, we think of Separation Anxiety as a natural part of growing up. But what we don’t normally see is the underlying harm this could bring to our children.
How can we help as Parents or Guardians?
- Gradually separate from your child, for a few minutes to minimum hours only, until the child finds the routine, normal.
- Try to let go of the child when they play. Let the child play alone or with other trusted person or watch at bay, children with overprotective guardians may have more tendency to have separation anxiety.
- Try not to make promises nor test your child if they will miss you when you say goodbye. Don’t toy with their feelings.
- Should you have promised something, make sure you give your child what has been promised, the trust you build will help them feel secure.
- Praise your child. They will look forward to being appreciated when they behave on your next temporary goodbyes.
Children who feel secure would most likely find it easier to cope and accept that being away from their familiar place or person is nothing to be scared about. It will also be easier for the child to develop with positive behavior when the child has overcome their fear of being separated.
When Separation Anxiety becomes extreme or when a child failed to overcome this anxiety at a certain age, or if the cause of the anxiety is by a traumatic experience, this could be a case of Separation Anxiety Disorder. This can interfere with the child’s emotional and overall development.
What are the signs of Distress brought about by Separation Anxiety Disorder
These could be the extreme symptoms that may require professional help or intervention.
- Fear of being left alone even for a few minutes even when the child is at home;
- Always snappy or grumpy;
- Finishing meals take longer to finish as part of the child’s time delaying strategy;
- Not interested in any usual or fun activities;
- Not interested to go to school or playdates or anything that would mean being separated from their caregiver or family.
- Getting more emotional, the unusual way;
- Trouble getting some sleep; Bedwetting
- Temper bursts or being extremely clingy;
- Tummy aches or tired eyes;
- Disturbed or restless sleep.
If efforts has been exhausted to help the child with Separation Anxiety Disorder, consider seeking professional help, both medical and psychological.
Specialists can better identify the symptoms either physically or psychologically, and can be of great help to the child to cope and combat Separation Anxiety Disorder.
There are also other ways to help the child going through Separation Anxiety. You can aid the process with EFT, Essential oils, grounding exercises and Earthing techniques
EFT will help release the child’s anxiety. While soothing the child, ask him to follow these simple steps:
- Tapping side of hand while saying “even though I am scared, my mother will come for me soon.” repeat as many times as needed.
- Then tap the points shown above and say “I am ok. My mother is coming back.”
Try these grounding exercises as well: Ask the child to close his eyes and calmly help him think of color coordinated stuff like:
- “Think of red things like apples
- and a field of red tulips
- and red raspberries, or sitting on a big red ball.”
Essential oils can create a calming and relaxed environment too
Use EOs like Balance, Cedarwood, Serenity and Frankincense. Swipe or apply some on the bottom of the child’s feet. A few drops on some clay beads on a necklace or bracelet and have the child wear it, so he can feel the effect everywhere he goes.
These oils helps to relieve anxiety and gives grounding effect.
Also, bringing the child to a serene place and letting him experience being one with nature is another sure way to relieve the child his separation anxiety.
Try going out with the child and encourage him go walking on the grass, on barefoot, or the sand on the beach, or in the woods. Be there with your child on the outdoors and try Earthing. It really helps release the stress and worry of being separated.
These techniques will bring calm and happiness to the child, will help push aside the fear and worry Separation Anxiety brings. Even thinking about doing this helps to can help you and your child release this pent-up emotions brought about fear and worrying.
If your child is going through anxiety, worry no more, Contact me and let’s discuss how to help you and your child overcome anxiety.