How to deal with separation anxiety in older children


Separation anxiety is a natural state of mind and not a condition. It is basically triggered when moving away from a point of dependency and this point can be anything from a toy to a person. It can affect people of any age group and is found generally in young children but there are many older children too who suffer from this. Here is how to deal with separation anxiety in older children.

Work upon past experiences to deal with separation anxiety in older children

It is a common experience that older children who suffer from anxiety are the ones who had anxiety cases in the past too. Like fearful people who develop a fear of clowns, dogs, ghosts, etc are more prone to anxiety than others. This list also includes older children who suffered from obsessiveness. This list also includes people who would think a lot and go into depression. They always feel the need to be dependent on someone for their survival. So accordingly you need to address this notion they have by understanding where they are coming from and talk about it and work upon the re-assurance they need so that the dependability issue can also be tackled effectively.

Spend quality time with your child

Work towards building a strong bond. A perfect and reliable bond does not often leave any space for insecurity. Start spending quality time with your child, learn his desires and his insecurities. Respond in a way that says that you know what’s going on in his life and you are always there to support him in his ventures. This will instill a sense of confidence in your child by keeping you as the support system and help him replace his anxiety with confidence.

Walk along with your child

Parents need to understand that the way in which the brain and its cells function during anxiety is a very complicated process. At such times the person suffering from anxiety is not looking for any kind of logical information to be passed on to him, rather he is seeking words and ways to soothe his anxious mind. So speak of good things to your children, assure them that they are protected and you are always with them, don’t show that irritation of handling an anxious child in your smile.

You have to walk on your child’s path to be able to deal with separation anxiety in older children and to eventually take him off it. Anxiety has nothing to do with reality. It is simply an earthquake of high Richter scale which keeps on erupting in a person’s mind and all he needs at that time is support. Give your child that.

It is not just older children who struggle with separation anxiety. Small kids tend to develop it as well. Given below are some ways to deal with separation anxiety in small children.

Involve the teacher

Most fears regarding separating from parents roots up from the fact that a school has seemingly a much sterner and disciplined environment than home. It is the fear of the teacher, the fear of peers and sometimes, even a hidden sense of inferiority that gives rise to the feeling of discomfort while letting parents say goodbye. The teacher is the one who keeps a vigil eye on your child until you get back to pick him up. Discuss this problem with her. She would be able to help. A child requires a smiling face to greet him at school.

Invite friends and classmates

Make the mingling up of your kid with his classmates a not-so-difficult experience. Invite his classmates on the smallest of occasions. This practice facilitates a quick acquaintance of your kid with them and you never know, he might find out a true friend for his lifetime amongst these kids! This would increase the sense of self-confidence in your kid as well! The best thing which your child would feel about this would be the fact that you are actively involved in his life. This gives him an air of security and goes a long way to reduce the anxiety factor.

Invent a goodbye ritual

Involve your child in whacking your brains to invent a goodbye norm. Goodbye norms are often taken as a very positive way of saying goodbye. In fact, you would find your kid taking pride in repeating the goodbye gesture with you in front of his peers. It is taken as a public display of love by children and they feel their parents’ trust pinned on themselves. Apart from goodbye gestures, grasp every situation to show that you love him and will always be at his side, no matter what happens. Many parents have this habit of cuddling their kids in private but avoiding to do so in public. Please do not show such kind of behavior, since it is taken negatively by a child’s inquisitive mind.

Don’t give up

Children tend to throw tantrums, shed tears, stamp feet and howl at the top of voices. It is absolutely doubtless that it is a pitiable sight to look at, especially for working parents, who are often pressed under the guilt of not being able to give ample time to their kids. But you will have to be stern and yet gentle. Let him fuss around and cry, don’t try to bribe him with material things. Just express that you trust him and love him. Your child will slowly reduce the expression of anxiety. Make sure that your child receives clear signals pertaining to the fact that how much ever he cries and howls, his mum or dad are not going to surrender in front of his fusses.

Drop your kid to and receive him from school

Make this an infallible habit. When you see off your child and pick him up from school, he develops the feeling that he is wanted and loved, and that the school or the teacher, does not conspire to detach him from you. This practice is sure to calm down a lot of separation anxiety. Another complementary way of attending to the anxiety cause would be to pick up a classmate or a close friend on the way to school. This would increase your child’s involvement in his school dynamics while still making the parent attachment feeling at the back of his mind.

Separation anxiety is a common emotion which is felt by individuals of all age groups. In fact, even your pets, dogs in particular, feel separation anxiety. If not treated at the right time, this emotion can give birth to various other disorders. It can hamper your life to a great extent.  If you are reading this as a patient of separation anxiety disorder, listed below are some effective ways to deal with the disorder. Read on.

Understanding anxiety

Anxiety is a normal adaptive system of the body which warns us of the danger that we are in. This is a natural body and mind behavior which should be taken into consideration instinctively. However, it becomes a problem when you feel it even at the time of natural safety and security. No matter what type of anxiety you face, it is important to understand it.  Then think about the anxiety- causing things which need to be rectified in your life.

Evaluate your current situation

Anxiety is triggered by certain factors of your day to day life which makes you feel terrible. Sit back and calmly think about the reasons for your anxiety. Separation anxiety can be associated with you losing your job, your girlfriend, missing your parents or friends, etc. You only need to realize what is it that you are missing. Then it would be easier for you to plan your way out of it.

Accept your loss

Most of the times, separation anxiety is completely ignored and your mind just keeps thinking and bickering about your loss which has created problem in your day to day life. This ignorance towards separation anxiety makes it a prolonged disorder. Instead, you should accept what you have lost and think about your next step once the damage is done. This will help you take control of your own life and plan the post-apocalypse phase of yourself. Separation anxiety increases if a person continues living with it. It worsens if the person has no clue for what caused it. The person might turn helpless if he/she doesn’t know what needs to be done to get rid of this problem.

Keep yourself occupied

Engage yourself in something which makes you happy. An idle mind would add to your problem as it will keep pointing the problematic feeling. But will not be able to sort out any solution to it. When you keep yourself busy, your brain is set to a pro-active state and is on a healthy mode. It can understand and evaluate things in a better way and achievement of things also make you feel happy. This is one of your strongest defense against anxiety.

Train yourself for the new life

Separation anxiety is generated when your mind refuses to accept the change. Perform breathing exercise and take time out to have a self conversation. Keep repeating the changed order in your living and the new plans that would work towards your benefit. Taking pleasant evening walks and morning exercises will ease your mind. It will help you to accept your new life without the person that caused separation anxiety in the first place.

Dr Prem Jagyasi

Dr Prem is an award winning strategic leader, renowned author, publisher and highly acclaimed global speaker. Aside from publishing a bevy of life improvement guides, Dr Prem runs a network of 50 niche websites that attracts millions of readers across the globe. Thus far, Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries, addressed numerous international conferences and offered his expert training and consultancy services to more than 150 international organizations. He also owns and leads a web services and technology business, supervised and managed by his eminent team. Dr Prem further takes great delight in travel photography.

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