Though many people would have heard of the term ‘Separation Anxiety’, very few understand what it really is. It is basically the insecurity that an infant experiences when his/her parents are going away from him/her, whether for a few seconds, few minutes or few hours. Almost all the parents out there must have experienced the situation in which their baby starts crying or throwing tantrums when they leave. This is nothing, but anxiety that the baby feels on being detached from the parents.
Development of Separation Anxiety
In the initial months, usually till six months, babies easily adapt to the change in their caregivers. As long as their needs are being met, they do not bother whether it’s their mother or their nanny taking care of everything. In fact, at this stage, it is the parents who feel more anxious at being separated from their baby. It is around 6 months that the babies start developing a sense of object permanence. They start realizing that people exist even when they are no longer in the line of sight.
They start doing things to keep their parents around, such as dropping things, so that the parents come to pick them up. As soon as the particular thing is given back to them, they throw it again. Whether you go to the kitchen for a few minutes or leave them with the baby sitter, they throw tantrums to get you back within minutes. As babies get in the age group of 8 months to 1 year, they start getting more and more possessive about their parents and want to stick to them all the time. This is when separation anxiety develops.
The symptoms of separation anxiety usually involve children getting angry when their parents leave them. At this point of time, they will start throwing tantrums, like rolling on the ground, throwing things away, and the like. At times, they start crying loudly; just to gain attention and make the parents stay by their side. Clinging to parents and resisting attention from others are some of the other symptoms of separation anxiety. If you have been noticing all these signs in your child since a long time, be relaxed that it is nothing more than separation anxiety.
Timing and Duration
Though the usual time for the onset of separation anxiety is around 1 year, children may develop it even later, between 18 months and 2½ years of age. There are also some children do not go through the phase at all. On the other hand, the duration for which separation anxiety lasts will differ from one child to the other. In some cases, it might get over in a few months, while some kids might suffer from it even through the elementary school years. Though separation anxiety in children is very normal, it should not interfere with their regular activities. If it does, it is better to check out for some other reasons.