How To Help Your Child With Separation Anxiety?

Do you want to learn: How to help your child with separation anxiety?

Separation anxiety disorder is usually treated with psychotherapy, sometimes along with medication. Psychotherapy, sometimes called talk therapy or psychological counseling, involves working with a therapist to reduce separation anxiety symptoms. The question is how to help your child with separation anxiety? Is it really tough to handle your child having separation anxiety?

No not at all,  the sooner you intervene and seek professional help, the more likely your child will experience a positive treatment outcome.

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): Also known as talking therapy, this is the main form of treatment for separation anxiety disorder. This therapy works to reshape the child’s thinking (cognition) so that their behavior becomes more appropriate.
  • Family therapy:  It may help teach the family about the disorder and help family members better support the child during periods of anxiety.
  • Play therapy:    Younger children can have difficulty connecting the dots between thoughts, feelings, and actions. For these children, play therapy can help them demonstrate and process their emotions and learn to cope with them.

Relaxation training is essential for children and adolescents struggling with Separation Anxiety Disorder. Deep breathing, guided relaxation, and progressive muscle relaxation can also help children and adolescents learn to self-soothe during anxious times.

Some children and adolescents continue to struggle with symptoms of Separation Anxiety Disorder even during treatment. If symptoms continue to negatively affect your child and make it difficult for your child to attend a school or even leave the house, medication might help.

It’s important to seek a medication evaluation from a child and adolescent psychiatrist, as medications can have significant side effects for children.

  • Medication:  Antidepressants or other anti-anxiety medications can use to treat severe cases of separation anxiety disorder.
  • School intervention: Mental health practitioners at your child’s school can offer therapy to help them manage SAD symptoms.

Helping babies and children with separation anxiety:

If your child is suffering from separation anxiety, it’s best not to avoid separation. Instead, there are many things you can do to gently encourage and help your child.

In new places:

  • If you’re leaving your baby or child somewhere new, spend time at the new place with your child before the separation. Your child will be less distressed if they’re left in a safe, familiar place with familiar people they trust.
  • Let your baby or child take something they love from home, like their favorite toy, etc. These objects will help your child feel safer, and you can gradually phase them out as your child feels more settled in the new place.
  • Tell your baby or child’s relative, child care center, preschool, or school about their separation anxiety. Also, let them know about what you’re doing to help your child. This way, other people can give your child consistent support.

When you’re leaving your baby or child:

  • Start with short separations from your child. You can gradually increase the time apart as your child becomes comfortable with separation.
  • Tell your child when you’re leaving and when you’ll be back. This is helpful even with babies. Leaving without saying goodbye can make things worse.
  • Settle your child in an enjoyable activity before you leave.
  • Say goodbye to your child briefly.
  • Keep a relaxed and happy look on your face when you’re leaving. If you seem worried or sad, your child might think the place isn’t safe and can get upset too.

At home:

  • Help your baby get used to being apart from you by leaving them in a room with someone else. Start with very short separations and build up over time.
  • Avoid criticizing your child’s difficulty with separation.
  • Read books or makeup stories with your child about separation fears. This might help your child feel they’re not alone in being afraid of separating from their parents.
  • Make a conscious effort to foster your child’s self-esteem by giving them plenty of positive attention when they’re brave about being away from you.

Lifestyle and home remedies:

While separation anxiety disorder benefits from professional treatment, you can also take these steps to help your child with separation anxiety:

  • Learn about your child’s separation anxiety disorder. Talk to your child’s mental health professional to learn about the disorder and help your child understand it.
  • Stick to the treatment plan. Make sure to keep the therapy appointments for your child. Consistency makes a big difference.
  • Take action. Learn what triggers your child’s anxiety. Practice the strategies developed with the mental health professional so you’re ready to deal with your child’s anxious feelings during separations.

What parents can do: 

Talk with your child’s therapist to better understand how SAD affects them in their daily life. Make sure your child is able to attend therapy appointments on schedule. Regular treatment will lead to better results. Find out what triggers your child’s anxiety symptoms, and apply therapy techniques to help your child manage their feelings at home or in school.