Separation anxiety often takes place in early childhood when the individual is still learning healthy attachments and trying to develop feelings of security. As the child grows up, he will become more secure in his relationships and separation anxiety should fade.
However, if such feelings of anxiety continue into adulthood so that it interferes with the pleasures and activities of regular life. The only change in the adult version is that, during the later stages, it may culminate into a Panic disorder or Agoraphobia or both. These disorders are caused due to many factors such as an abnormality in the part of the brain which helps it recognize the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood, fooling it to believe that the amount of oxygen that the brain is getting isn’t enough. This leads to an adrenaline rush, which thereby leads to all these symptoms. These disorders can also be inherited, which means some people have them in their genes. Parents with alcohol related problems can also make the child more vulnerable to this disorder.
As with any disorder, early diagnosis is key. This is the reason why an increasing number of parents have become informed and are addressing the problem from an early age.
What Research Says About Separation Anxiety
Recent studies on the human brain show that early bonding between infant and mother/caregiver is crucial to the healthy development of a person’s brain.
Any caring person can often soothe an infant, but subtle attachment difficulties were observed in brain scans.
Moreover, significant indications have been shown that breaks in this attachment (e.g., mother returning to work, changing nannies often, separation due to illness or adoption, etc.) impact mental health and future relationships throughout the person’s life.
Symptoms of Separation Anxiety
The symptoms of the disorder include shyness, hiding behind a parent or holding onto the leg or hand, long periods of silence, and a tendency to avoid interaction even with people or family members they are familiar with (e.g., a friend, grandparent, or even the other parent). Whining and crying may also accompany the disorder.
Common triggers include the birth of a new baby in the family, a new nanny or guardian, and moving to a new city or house.
Some Factors That Intensify The Problem Of Separation Anxiety
Anxious, enabling adults promote dependent children. Never show that you are afraid for your children when they are placed into new responsibilities. If you take your child to daycare, drop him off and leave promptly!
Couples who have a strained relationship will often triangulate with their child. This means that one partner may use the child to meet her own needs
Dealing with Separation Anxiety
The best way to deal with this disorder is to give the child medical attention along with some psychological treatment. He/she should gradually be exposed to the world outside and should be encouraged to mingle with the children of the same age. They should be counseled properly to adopt a positive attitude and eliminate bad thoughts that worsen the attacks. Besides, they must be taught certain relaxation as well as breathing exercises to calm themselves, whenever they feel uneasy. These techniques, along with tranquilizers and anti-depressants taken in a regulated manner and under professional supervision, can help in getting over this disorder.
Parents must understand that the condition is a normal part of a child’s early years. They must help a child develop feelings of security and safety in the home and the family.
Some parents also seek therapy for the child or the family, while others engage in play therapy, where the child can use puppets, toys, and art to express his feelings.
A child needs to understand that people who leave can come back. It is also necessary to develop confidence that when a family member or guardian promises to return they will in fact do so.
Let your children learn through failure, mistakes, and disappointment. Trying to protect your children from the inevitability of life’s imperfections will make them feel more incompetent.
Be firm about your limits when it comes to children managing their anxiety. Don’t rescue them from moving forward in spite of fear no matter how difficult it may be for you to observe their struggles.
Don’t get hooked into your children’s temper tantrums. Remove yourself from their negative behavior – it will eventually diminish.
Don’t let anxious children pick up cues that you are fearful for them. Maintain a certain degree of detachment when your children experience psychological pain.
The best thing a parent can do to deal with separation anxiety is to listen to their child, stay calm when he becomes anxious, and remind him of past success and future rewards.