Overcast   29.0F  |  Forecast »
Edit Module

Dealing with Separation Anxiety and Kids

Many children grapple with separation anxiety, but there are ways parents can help them overcome it

It's a scene in many kindergarten classrooms: Moms and dads stand in the hallway as kids are getting upset about having to leave their parents. Pretty standard, right?

But what some parents may not realize is that kids can have separation anxiety well into their elementary school years. It's OK to have that nervousness; parents just need to know what to do.

Good approaches

Dr. Richard Solomon, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician for Ann Arbor Center for Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, says it's normal for kids to have fears about leaving their parents. He said parents can help by being understanding and yet encouraging their children to have new experiences without them.

"Parents need to recognize their child's anxiety," Solomon says. "You can give them attention – but at same time, promote independence."

Solomon says that parents need to balance their reactions to their kids; they can't be too careful, but they can't push too hard, either.

Giving responsibilities

Another way to help kids become more independent is to give them their own responsibilities, such as picking up after themselves, says David Benson, a Grosse Pointe Farms clinical social worker.

"Sometimes parents do everything themselves, and it doesn't create independence in the child," Benson says. "The key thing is to help the child become more independent, even at an early age."

Boosting confidence

But although stress about separation is "natural," dealing with it can be difficult for both children and parents. Solomon recommends that parents stay neutral, though, and not get emotional themselves.

"It is very important to give subliminal messages of confidence to children," Solomon says. "When parents give in, when a child could have handled it, it's a message about the lack of confidence in the child."

For instance, if a child is getting worried because he or she doesn't want to go spend the night at a friend's house and the parent gives in and lets the child stay home, the parent is giving a "message" that their son or daughter can't handle the situation.

"If the child can handle the situation, they should be encouraged," Solomon says.

Anxiety is normal

However, even after a child gets through the initial difficulty of going to a new school or playing at a friend's house, it is important to realize that these types of anxieties come and go throughout everyone's lives, and that it is not a one-time event.

"We're always having to face challenges," Solomon says. "Life is a series of developmental steps that inevitably brings anxiety. As you grow, you face anxiety, and it's quite natural.

"We have a lifelong process of feeling relatively insecure with ourselves. We can't achieve anything without being insecure just a little bit."

Add your comment:
Edit Module
Edit Module
Advertisement
Edit Module

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Hanukkah Crafts for Kids: Holiday Picture Frame

Hanukkah Crafts for Kids: Holiday Picture Frame

If you're celebrating the holiday and looking for quick and easy crafts for kids, this fun and affordable little keepsake is a great way to display family memories.

Dad Gets Unexpected Reaction to Terrible Christmas Gifts

Dad Gets Unexpected Reaction to Terrible Christmas Gifts

British dad pranks his kids with bad Christmas presents, but didn't get the reaction he was expecting – and it's pretty sweet.

Simple Holiday Family Crafts to Make with On-Hand Material

Simple Holiday Family Crafts to Make with On-Hand Material

Does your family have paper cups, Legos, plastic spoons or toilet-paper rolls lying around? Transform them into angels, snowmen and even a chimney for Santa!

Bath Time Safety Tips for Babies and Toddlers

Bath Time Safety Tips for Babies and Toddlers

What's the best way to bathe your child? How can you keep them safe in the tub? A pediatric doctor at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit has tips.

Snowman Dessert Recipes: Tasty and Cute Ideas

Snowman Dessert Recipes: Tasty and Cute Ideas

Who doesn't love Frosty the Snowman? Kids will enjoy making – and eating! – some of these adorable and delicious snowman recipes.

Holiday Stamping Favorite Supplies from Stampin' Up

Holiday Stamping Favorite Supplies from Stampin' Up

Crafty company Stampin' Up offers a variety of fun stampers, punches and paper that transform into cool gift tags, cards and other fun DIY projects.

British Mom Sells Breast Milk to Pay for Christmas Gifts

British Mom Sells Breast Milk to Pay for Christmas Gifts

A mom of four from Manchester, England gets $20 for a bottle of her breast milk, which she sells online, reportedly to buy her kids presents for the holidays.

Edit Module
Advertisement
Edit Module
Advertisement
Edit Module
Advertisement