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What Is Child Development Separation Anxiety Disorder And How Can You Deal With It?

Child development separation anxiety disorder is a type of anxiety which triggers fear in your child of being separated from you.

Child Development Separation Anxiety Disorder

For most children separating from their primary carer is a big step and it's vitally important that you understand how your child is likely to react of being separated from you.

Children with an anxiety disorder are usually so afraid, worried, or uneasy that they cannot function normally.

Some anxiety disorders can last through out the life of your child and can greatly interfere in his day-to-day work.

There are various types of anxiety disorders which are commonly found in young children.

An anxiety disorder in your child can range from a simple adjustment disorder to more difficult and debilitating disorders such as panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

If anxiety disorder in your child is not treated in the early stages, it can lead to missed school days and inability to finish school, impaired relations with peers and low self-esteem.

Some types of anxiety disorders that can occur in your child include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and acute stress disorder.

Some other types of anxiety disorder common in children include social phobia, specific phobia, adjustment disorder with anxiety, and anxiety disorder due to a general medical condition.

Effects Of Separation On Your Child

When your child is separated from you, there's a pattern to his anxiety known as separation distress and there are three stages to this distress...

Stages Likely Signs
Protest Frustration, anger, loud cries.
Despair Very quiet, doesn't participate in activities.
Detachment Plays by himself, withdrawn from others, does not interact with peers.

Your child will go through all the three stages of distress if you are not giving him adequate attention. When he reaches the last stage -- Detachment -- he will not be interested in others around him.

Age When Separation Occurs

  • If your child is under six months old be rest assured that he will not show any sign of separation distress, since he wouldn't have formed a strong attachment with you.
  • Between the ages of one and three years, he is more likely to show signs of separation distress when you leave him.
  • When he is old and have had the experience of you leaving and returning, he is more likely to cope with being separated for short periods of time.

Helping Your Child Who Is Showing Signs of Separation Distress

As a parent, it is important to be able to identify signs of separation distress in your child. When he is in the first stage of distress -- Protest -- signs will include anger, crying and withdrawal.

When this occurs DO NOT ignore them, because he may feel neglected.

You should...

  • Read him stories.
  • Hold and cuddle him.
  • Try and settle him.

Click here to learn more about helping your child overcome separation anxiety.

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