Worried About Leaving?

Separation anxietySeparation anxiety disorder may appear as impractical worries and fears to most people, but to child sufferers it’s a very genuine, and sometimes debilitating, condition.

Because the symptoms of a traumatic event and separation anxiety disorder generally overlap to a large extent, it’s important that you determine what you are dealing with. Even then, separation anxiety can, in a milder form, be just that, while in more serious states it would then be classified as a disorder. The latter would need professional intervention.

For a child suffering from separation anxiety disorder his fears and anxieties will become obsessive enough to wangle their way into between him and his normal activities. This disrupts his life and that of his family’s.


Emotions can cause extreme distress

His condition is inevitably brought on by extreme distress which is caused by an emotional reason. The child will display intensified fears, again, real or imagined, that are characterised by fears of being away from his parents or his main caregiver, of he or them being kidnapped, getting lost, or of never seeing them again. His insecurity is simply overwhelming to him and so these fears become very viable. Such fears are very often translated into nightmares, too. He may well display social withdrawal, apathy, sadness or crying, or difficulty concentrating on school work or even play when not with his major -security support.

This does not necessarily mean things have to -be wrong at home. You can be providing a very healthy home environment and an equally healthy bond with your child, and still your child could develop separation anxiety disorder. This condition can be as draining and trying for you as it is for your child.


Some of the causes

But there can be extenuating circumstances that can certainly add to his little world being shattered:

  • Divorce (the trauma of a parent suddenly not  being around as they used to be)
  • Death of a parent, sibling or grandparent
  • Change of house, area, school or any main environment
  • When a parent is over-protective, their anxieties may often be picked up by the child
  • A generally stressed or highly-strung parent.

Separation anxiety disorder can have lasting effects so it’s important to look out for any warning signs so you can get your child help early.

Look for things such as clinginess that goes beyond shyness, and is also displayed at an inappropriate age. Tantrums need to be addressed when they are thrown way outside of the acceptable tantrum-age timeline, and when they are thrown for the simple reason of not wanting to be separated from the said parent or caregiver. Another key factor is taking note when the child fakes illness in order to be with you.


CBT focuses on the cognitions

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a psychological treatment which has been used to help adults and children for many years. It has had outstanding results and is often used in separation anxiety disorder cases, focusing on guiding these children and their parents using various major life skills. Children are taught to be aware of these anxious feelings concerning separation and to recognise their physical reactions to the anxiety they feel. They are taught to identify their thoughts in separation situations which cause them anxiety and are taught to develop a plan to cope positively with such situations.

CBT has proved so successful because it focuses on a person’s thoughts, emotions and behaviours (cognitions). These cognitions are all related, so the therapy offers a well-rounded approach.

But there are obviously other methods of psychological therapy that you and your child may prefer and perhaps respond better to. Your doctor will be able to guide you with that aspect.


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