We feel distressed when someone we know is separated from us but we need to overcome it and grow to be independent and confident individuals. We want our kids to overcome separation anxiety and grow to be independent and confident individuals as well. Separation anxiety normal but if it is persistent and extreme, we should be concerned.
When things are serious, it is called separation anxiety disorder and it is not a normal state of development. It is an emotional problem that should be tackled as soon as the indications are seen. The thing is, normal separation anxiety and separation anxiety disorder share same indications but they should not be considered equal (since the latter is more serious).
As parents, we simply want our children to have a healthy separation anxiety. We have to know when it has become a disorder. Here are the indications of separation anxiety disorder in children:
- Constant worrying: Worrying is natural but when the child is constantly worried that an event will result to permanent separation, that is beyond normal. It is time to step up.
- Incessant fears: Children who suffer from separation anxiety disorder are incessantly frightful that something will happen to their loved one or their caregiver. The worse thing that could happen is a child having nightmares every night of the said fears.
- Continuing refusals: Separation anxiety disorder can get in the way of the activities of the children. The child will reject any activities that can “separate” them from their primary caregivers. Their reluctance to continue their activities is most evident.
- Complaining sickness: To prevent possible separation, the child will cling to the caregiver and will always complain of physical sickness such as stomach ache or head ache. In some cases, the child will lose sleep.
There are many causes of separation anxiety disorder. We have to know the root cause so it would be easier to tackle and handle it. Common causes include change in environment, over-protective parents and stress. Remember that the disorder did not happen overnight. There is something that triggered that reaction or response. We should be able to identify whether it is trauma-related rather than separation anxiety.
It is not easy to treat separation anxiety disorder because it needs the help of doctors. The good news is that there are many specialists here in Singapore that we can consider. If the separation anxiety still persist for a very long time, it is crucial that we bring our children to specialists. The separation anxiety should be treated before it can upset the normal routine of our children.