Separation Anxiety: What is Normal and When to get help?  

Most younger children tend to feel anxiety when they leave their parents to go to daycare or with a relative, that's normal. They're not used to being away from their parents so it is an adjustment, when they get older and they are still really struggling, it could be separation anxiety. 

Often times, children will miss events or even days at school by pretending to be sick so they can stay home with their parents. It is common for children for children who struggle with separation anxiety to be afraid of being in a different room than their parents or sleeping alone in their bed. 

Childhood separation anxiety disorder affects many young children. It is caused by fear when a child is separated from their parent or  in a familiar environment. 

Separation anxiety is a normal part of development with children and parents often notice it when their child starts school or daycare for the first time. When the child's anxiety becomes excessive, it can be classified as separation anxiety disorder.

Separation anxiety disorder is a type of childhood anxiety disorder that is more common in girls than boys and can persist into adolescence. Children with separation anxiety disorder may experience fear or worry when separated from their parent. They may become extremely clingy or may refuse to go to school or want to attend any activities without their parent.

Separation Anxiety

- clings to parents/caregivers
- fear of separation
- cries when separated from parents/caregivers
- nightmares or bedwetting
- refuses to go anywhere without parents/caregivers
- headaches or stomach pain
- excessive worries about losing parents/caregivers
- refuses sleepovers away from home
- avoids activities without parents/caregivers
- refuses to sleep alone
- fear of being alone
- tantrums while separating from parents/caregivers
- refuses to go to school
- distressed about leaving home

Early diagnosis and treatment for separation anxiety disorder is extremely important when helping children manage their symptoms. When treating separation anxiety, cognitive behavioral therapy is often used because it teaches children how to change their anxious thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts.

DISCLAIMER: I am not an Occupational Therapist. I am an adult who has Sensory Processing Disorder, a sensory parent and a Grandma. The information on this website is not medical advice and does not replace the information that your child's therapists gives you. These are just ideas and information that I have learned myself over the years of being a parent and an adult living with SPD. If you are concerned for your child, please always seek medical attention through a family doctor, pediatrician or therapist. This website is for suggestions and informational purposes only. Each child is different and what works for one child may not for another because all children have different needs. Please always consult with a professional.

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