Separation Anxiety Disorder

Lily

B.R
Staff member
If you stand outside a kids’ school, you can very well expect to view a very common scene unfolding. With the ring of the bell, you will have kids howling their guts out, clinging onto their parents legs and refusing with all their might any attempt to put them to school. The sight has become so common that many people consider it to be an integral part of growing up of a child! No one likes to go to school and this behavior can be quite understandable. But it happens that some kids cannot bear to see their parents out of sight. So, everyday such a scene unfolds not only in front of the school, but also when parents go for work or any such instances when the kid is left out. While most parents dismiss such incidents as a natural part of growing up, sometimes it becomes important to carefully consider such instances. Though most kids soon tend to forget that their parents are not near them and join in with their surroundings, there are some who suffer from separation anxiety disorder. Such kids would constantly brood over the separation and display a fear for themselves and their loved ones. This disorder is not as potent as other disorders and if timely counseled, the child can overcome this fear. However, if you neglect it, then it can have a far reaching effect upon the child’s development and future outlook. Given below in the article is more information on this disorder.

Causes Of Separation Anxiety Disorder

  • The fundamental cause of separation anxiety disorder can be traced to genetic and environmental vulnerabilities. Those with a family history of anxiety are susceptible to this disease.
  • Excessive stress during pregnancy increases the risk of separation anxiety disorder. Constant worry, nervous tension and strain can affect the growth and development of the child in the womb, thereby causing after birth problems.
  • Any traumatic event, like death and illness of a loved one can also be the reason for the disorder to strike the child. Breaking a bad news to a little one calls in for a lot of understanding and perception on the part of the person. Make sure that you prepare the child emotionally well before you break in shocking news.
  • A slow rate of development in children can also lead to the occurrence of this disorder. Children with delayed emotional and cognitive development tend to understand things at a slower rate. As such, they do not understand that separation is temporary and that they are not going to be away from their parents for life.
  • Drastic changes either in lifestyle or in the emotional response can also cause separation anxiety disorder. Other changes that can cause this disorder are lack of adequate rest, illness or change in the routine.
Symptoms Of Separation Anxiety Disorder

  • Upon separation, the child feels excessively distressed. Sometimes the child may also anticipate the separation and so get all the more anxious. The child also displays extremely charged emotional response.
  • The child constantly worries of getting separated from the parents or other loved ones. As such, the child stays in a state of persistent worry.
  • Experiencing nightmares on a regular basis is also a common sign seen in children with separation anxiety disorder. The nightmares are concentrated mostly on the child being chased and separated from the family. The intensity of the nightmares is such that it overwhelms the child and so he/she cannot control the behavior.
  • The child may develop physical symptoms like nausea or queasiness on separation. If left untreated, the child may develop psychosomatic symptoms which would interfere with his/her daily life. It can also lead to chronic pain. Sometimes, to prevent separation, the child may feign various types of illness.
  • There is reluctance in the child to engage in activities that other children of the same age indulge in. For instance, the child would refuse to go to school or to an aunt’s place for fear of separation from the parents.
Treatments Of Separation Anxiety Disorder

  • As the goal of the treatment is to help the child conquer the fear of separation and help him/her identify the assumptions underlying the fear, cognitive-behavioral therapy comes out as the best solution. Through this approach, the thoughts, beliefs and images are altered to change the behavior. In this way, the child can be made less anxious about the separation.
  • Parents should help in modeling the behavior of their children. They shouldn’t make a big deal or a fuss of the separation and make the child see that the separation is but temporary. Remember, you are a role model for your child and that whatever you portray; the child would end up learning the same.
  • Leaving the child for 5 to 6 hours at a stretch at the first go itself would obviously scare the little one. The child should be systematically made to face the separation. Ideally, in the beginning you should separate from the child for a short duration, say about an hour and then gradually increase the length of the separation. This would make the child be at ease with the separation at later stages of life.
 
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