Separation Anxiety in Children: Causes, Signs & Support in York, Manchester & online

What is Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety is a normal part of development for babies and toddlers which most children usually outgrow by about 3 years of age.

It is common for younger children to have trouble separating from their parents, but separation anxiety is more extreme. It makes them worry something bad will happen, with fear and anxiety getting in the way of everyday life such as going to school or playdates with friends.

Less often, separation anxiety can also occur in teenagers, causing difficult problems leaving home or going out.


Signs of Separation Anxiety

Whilst every child or teenager is different, if they are struggling with separation anxiety you may notice the following signs:

Refusing to sleep alone

Refusing to go to school

Refusing to leave the house

Afraid of being alone

Fear of strangers

Being clingy

Worried about the safety of family or a loved one

Repeated nightmares about being separated

Panic or temper tantrums when separated from parents or caregivers.


How to deal with Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety can make it difficult to leave your child or teenagers at nursery, school or in someone else’s care. It can be distressing to see them upset and easy to worry about the effect on your child each time you have to leave them.

Remember that it is normal for your child to feel anxious the first few times you leave them. To help ease this anxiety, here are a few things you can do.

Try creating goodbye rituals that you do together but make sure to keep them short and sweet

Be consistent and try to stick to the same drop off and collection time each day

Try speak your child’s language, so instead of saying ‘I will be back in 3 days’ say, ‘I will be home after 3 sleeps’

Practice being apart, such as getting them to go spend time with family members, on playdates or through childcare.


When to get help with Separation Anxiety

It is usual that separation anxiety continues daily after the nursery years. If you are worried that your child is continuing to struggle with separation anxiety and not coping without you, it may be time to seek professional help.

We understand seeking therapy can be daunting for both you and your child and that taking the first step can be hard. We have a team of professional and friendly child therapists who can work together with you and your child to design a bespoke and flexible treatment which works best for them. Our children’s therapy services are available for children and teenagers aged 5 to 17, at our clinics in York, Manchester and online.

Please get in touch using the form below to find out more about how we can help.

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