Separation anxiety usually sets in when a child is about to say good bye to people close to him or her in the early years. It’s usually a teary moment accompanied with tantrums. This type of anxiety is usually witnessed at an early age before a child turns one. The child becomes easily irritated when parents or caregivers drop him off with someone else.
Sometimes, the condition may be considered a normal part of a child’s developmental stages. However, it is important to analyze the situation critically in order to determine when the condition has become abnormal. In order to help a child who is showing signs of separation anxiety, parents and those involved need to gain insights into the situation before coming up with effective strategies to tackle the situation. Finding appropriate and effective solutions will help both the child going through separation anxiety and the parents who have to cope with the condition.
The Initial Manifestation of Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is first witnessed in kids when it is time to leave them with people other than parents or other caregivers they have become accustomed to. Over time, however, a child would adjust well, particularly if the new caregivers are meeting the needs of the child adequately. This is particularly true about kids that are about six months old.
It is important to say that infants do not have a good grasp about time. Kids between the ages of four and seven months will develop object permanence ability and will get to learn that people exist (e.g. their parents) even if they can’t see them physically. This recognition usually takes place at the age when a child starts to play hide and seek with objects, expecting parents or people around to go find the object they’ve hidden or thrown over to the other side. A child has this similar perception about parents; they will start looking for their parents when they are not visible to them. The only thing is that a kid does not yet have a grasp about how time works at this stage, and can’t tell when to see their parents or those they are accustomed to again.
As the child grows older, perhaps up to one year old, he or she tends to learn to be independent but still shows some anxiety about being separated from parents or those he or she knows. But if the child’s anxiety lingers and causes the child to become increasingly upset and agitated, this calls for concern. Some kids may show anxiety separation up to age two, while some may not show signs of the condition throughout childhood.
So, How Long Does Separation Anxiety Lasts in a Child?
It depends on the child in question. Also, it depends on the pace of adjustment to the situation of being left with other people. Some kids may experience the condition all through elementary school years. If separation anxiety starts to intercept a child’s daily functioning, this could point to a more serious anxiety disorder and requires immediate intervention.