Separation Anxiety In Children

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Separation anxiety is a common occurrence in young children separating from a loved one or valued object. Dr. Brennan of WebMD defines separation anxiety as “a condition in which a child becomes fearful and nervous when away from home or separated from a loved one to whom the child is attached” (Brennan). It is especially apparent in young children just beginning school, children who have never attended school or left their childcare provider. Both parents and children experience emotional pain at the beginning process of separation anxiety. Typically, a child would overcome separation anxiety once s/he becomes accustomed to his/her new routine. Most children experiencing separation anxiety will complain of somatic symptoms. Common complaints …show more content…
Anxiety stems from children fearing separation from a caretaker for brief or long periods of time. Young children experience separation anxiety during his/her transition from home to school and/or at bedtime. Although separation anxiety is apparent in a child’s disruptive behavior it may not be the only form of anxiety a child is experiencing. For instance, other common anxiety disorders a child may experience are school phobia, school refusal, Panic Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, oppositional defiant disorder and General Anxiety Disorder (Packer, p. …show more content…
Transitioning to a new environment ‘where demands and expectations put pressure on them’ can be confusing (Miller, p. 2).
Dr. Nancy Rappaport, a Harvard Medical School professor who specializes in mental health care in school settings, sees anxiety as one of the causes of disruptive behavior that makes classroom teaching so challenging. “The trouble is that when kids who are anxious become disruptive they push away the very adults who they need to help them feel secure,” notes Dr. Rappaport. “And instead of learning to manage their anxiety, they end up spending half the day in the principal’s office” (Miller, p. 2).
Children who have experienced trauma at home are likely to act out in school. These children struggle to feel safe and their behavior can be intimidating. Dr. Rappaport says these children can ‘act like terrorists’ because they are ‘hyper-vigilant’ and ‘misread cues’ causing them to ‘go into combat’ (Miller, p. 2). A caring parent or teacher can help decrease a child’s anxiety (Winerip, p. 1) If a caring adult builds a relationship with a child, s/he could gain insight into the child’s anxiety and ‘give him tools to handle anxiety and prevent meltdowns’ (Miller, p. 2).