Separation Anxiety

According to Stanford Medicine, most children between the ages of 18 months to 3 years of age experience some type of separation anxiety. Even infants can experience separation anxiety once they have object permanence (as early as 4 to 5 months of age), but more commonly around 9 months of age.  

 If the anxiety continues persistently over the course of at least 4 weeks, seeking professional intervention is recommended as it may be SAD or Separation Anxiety Disorder.  Many believe this to be attributed to both biological and environmental factors with a chemical imbalance of both norepinephrine and serotonin playing a part. This effects both males and females equally; although, parents with anxiety disorders are more likely to have children that exhibit anxiety.  

How does separation anxiety present?  See the list below:


  1. Refusing to sleep alone
  2. Nightmares
  3. Worry
  4. Physical ailments
  5. Clingy (even at home)
  6. Temper tantrums when being separated from parents 

Do keep in mind that for most children, this is a stage that will pass.  Keeping your emotions in check and following some of these suggestions below will ease the separation anxiety:

  1. Consistency
  2. Routine
  3. Follow-through
  4. Practice separation lengthening separation incrementally 
  5. Focus on your child when reunited

While this is a difficult stage for both children and parents, this signals the healthy attachment developed between you and your child.  Selecting an early childhood setting with loving, nurturing educators will help give your child an opportunity to develop coping skills and foster independence.  Remember change takes time; be patient with your child and with yourself!

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