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It is a very common thing for children to be tearful and exhibit different kinds of outbursts when their parents seem to be departing from them temporarily; either to go to work, go for shopping, travel or attend to other matters. These are perfect descriptions of separation anxiety in children as well as its causes. It is a usual aspect of development in children; but when it becomes unsettling; then it has to be looked into closely so that a quick remedy can be administered. It therefore becomes very imperative that parents keep close watch on their children at that developing stage so as to understand a child’s specific needs and situations and then strategize on how to help such child.

The development of separation anxiety in children starts from four to seven months after birth. From month 1 to 3, a baby seems not to have developed the sense of recognition. So, babies at this stage can be easily separated from their parents with ease; in fact, parents are the ones who feel the separation more at this stage.  But from month 4 upwards, babies start having a sense of recognition and perception that a known object (either human or non human) has been kept away from them or is about being separated from them. This is evidenced by crying and refusing to pay attention to any means used in trying to make such child calm. They will be spreading their hands wide; a sign of beckoning on mum or dad to come back to them.

Separation anxiety timing in children varies. Some children might not even experience it at all (this is a rare case) while some starts out early at the age of four months and may last till the age of two or more. Then some other children surprisingly start experiencing it at later age like one year up to age 3 or more. The duration of anxiety in children as a result of separation could last up to elementary class years; however certain factors such as the personality trait of a child and the response mode of parents are determiners of such durations.

The major causes of separation anxiety in children are parents’ departure from home either for few hours or even days, the birth of a new sibling causing a shift of attention, introduction of a new child minder, relocation and child care situation. But for children who still go into anxiety at older ages; then it could be that there are other causes other than the ones mentioned. Pronounced among such other causes is bullying especially by older children at school. All these can elicit an anxious state in a child.

If you notice that your child’s activities both social and otherwise, are being hampered; and also that such child easily withdraws to an isolated place, this is an indication of separation anxiety disorder. Then there is an urgent need to see a doctor so that certain steps can be taken to remedy the situation fast.