Separation Anxiety in Children

Isn’t it cute how a child clings onto you every time you want to leave? You could be going to work or even just next door! It doesn’t matter. Your child wants to always be near you as they automatically assume you’ll not come back when you leave. This period could be both stressful to the child and mother. 

This kind of reaction is termed as Separation anxiety. It’s a disorder that makes it difficult for a child to stay away from their caregiver during their toddler years. Separation anxiety can start as early as 4months and can last up to 12 years of age.

What to Watch For

  • Refusing to be talked to or held by someone else
  • Fear that something bad may happen to you 
  • Refusing to go to school
  • Worrying over permanent separation
  • Refusing to sleep
  • Complains of headache, stomach ache or vomiting while not with you 
  • Excessive fear of being left on their own
  • Repetitive separation nightmares

What Causes Separation Anxiety?

  • New environment
  • Traumatic events
  • Insecure attachment
  • Over protective parent

How Do You Help Your Child Get Over Separation Anxiety?

No parent wants to see their child in anguish and the urge to run to them and offer comfort is usually overwhelming. Doing this will, however, only reinforce the disorder. 

Here is What Do

  • Educate yourself on separation anxiety
  • Talk to our child on the issue
  • Listen to our child’s fears and worries
  • Anticipate events that may trigger separation anxiety e.g. Moving to a new neighbourhood, school
  • Ensure your child is aware of any routine changes early
  • In case of severe separation anxiety, always consult a doctor

How Separation Anxiety Affect You

Every parent enjoys feeling needed or wanted especially by their child. It shows that a healthy bond is being nurtured between the two of you. Most times, however, you’ll feel guilty about taking time for yourself, leaving your child with a caregiver or even going to work.  

Do not let it worry you. Your child will slowly learn that you’re always going to come back. It also helps them gain a bit of independence.

Bidding Goodbye to Your Little One

Try these ways to make goodbyes easier for you and your child:-

  • Choose your timing when leaving– avoid leaving when your child is hungry, tired or hyper active.
  • Control your emotions – be calm and confident when saying goodbye to your little one. Always assure them you are coming back and that they are in safe hands.
  • Keep promises– return home on time as promised when possible.


Please note that development differs from one child to another. Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Be careful when using any products mentioned on this website. We hold no regulations for such products or their providers.

Last reviewed March 2019

Sources: kidshealth, helpguide, mayoclinic, psychologytoday, psycom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *