Separation anxiety is intense worry when someone you love has to go away like a parent, friend, or someone you are in a relationship with. You could be experiencing symptoms like worrying that something will happen to that person where you will never see them again which will make you not want to sleep alone, go to school, clinging onto the other person, etc. It is important to keep a routine going so that you can always expect when that person will go and to feel that not everyone who leaves will never come back.
Why Do Children Get Separation Anxiety?
There are many reasons why children feel intense worry when they separate from someone they love like if something happens that can threaten their normal routine like if their parent is stuck in traffic and are late picking up their kids from school. They also could just not like change. For instance, they may not enjoy having to move to new areas and new schools. It can also occur when unexpected things have happened like the death of a loved one, parents’ divorce, or when the parents are so overprotective that they teach their kids to be afraid of the world. All of these problems can cause your child to feel like the only way they will be safe is to be with a certain person that they trust.
How to Manage Separation Anxiety
The best thing that you can do for your child is to learn about separation anxiety to get a better understanding of what your child is going through and to better sympathize with their struggles. Listen to what your child is telling you to prevent them from feeling like they are going through their worries alone. Always encourage your child to talk to you and be empathetic when they do. You should also teach your children to anticipate the moments when you have to separate yourself from them.
For example, when it is time for your children to go to school every morning, let them know that it is time for you to go to work and them to go to school. The same goes for when you drop your child off to a friend’s house for a sleepover and let them know what to expect. Tell your child something encouraging like “I will be here at 3:00 pm to pick you up and we will go home and watch a movie together.” That way, it will not seem like a tragedy when you leave and it will give your child something to look forward to.
How Can You Help Your Child?
Always remain calm when you have to separate from your child. If you make a big case out of it and keep lingering onto your child, it will make the anxiety worse. Give a quick goodbye with a quick hug and kiss and leave. Encourage your child to attend more social and physical activities to help them get used to not always being by your side and wanting to be around other people. It will help them make friends and build up their confidence.
Keep the daily routines the same so that there are no surprises like consistent meal times and bedtimes. Let them know in advance if anything will change like if you have to stay at work later today and might need to be picked up by someone else or stay at after-care.
Work With the School
If there are moments where your child is very stressed out at school, work something out with the teacher by seeing if your child can use the school’s phone to call you for a minute or two to make them feel better. You can also place a note in your child’s lunch box or their locker to make them feel more assured throughout the day. You should also have them practice being apart more like have them spend some time with other relatives or schedule playdates for them.
There are also different forms of therapy where you can take your child. Examples such as talk therapy for your child to express their feelings, and have someone to listen to them. Therapists can also guide your child about what to do when these feelings happen. Family therapy can be helpful as well for your child to learn about the thoughts they experience that fuel their anxiety and parents will learn coping techniques. A school counselor can help your child explore the social, behavioral, and academic demands that schools require.
Adult Separation Anxiety
Adults can experience separation anxiety if they experience intense jealousy that someone they love will leave them or cheat on them. If they have a child of their own, they could believe that something bad can happen to them and will not see them again so they keep them close. An adult can also mooch off their parents or their friends because they think if they no longer live with them, they will not survive being in the world by themselves.
If you are an adult experiencing separation anxiety, you should join a support group to talk about your experiences to others going through the same thing and learn how to manage them. A therapist can give you more techniques to help calm them down when they are away from their loved ones. It can also help you to record your thoughts and feelings in a journal to better help identify them. You should always have faith that the people who love you will always stay with you.
Get Treatment Today
If you suffer from separation anxiety, our specialized therapists may be able to help. At Bayview Recovery Center, we offer a variety of services, including:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
- Yoga therapy
- Meditation therapy
- Trauma therapy
To learn more about our programs, call Bayview Recovery. At our facility in Tacoma, Washington, our mission is to offer clinically-driven programs and services to treat a number of substance abuse disorders along with anxiety and depression. For more information, please call us at 855.478.3650. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.