Dealing with Separation Anxiety in Children

I watched the 3-year-old toddler crumble up as he wailed and kicked with flailing legs and arms, seeing his mom leave the room. Tosin was a new entrant into the preschool and was having a tough time adjusting to the separation anxiety of seeing his mom leave.

I moved to the next class and observed a similar scenario but met with a vastly different outcome. The sweet 3-year-old girl with her hair bound with pretty pink ribbons waved happily at her mom and skipped off to class as her mom took her leave.

You would wonder what made the two toddlers react so differently to their first day in school. What makes one so apprehensive and worried while the other is serene and even excited? In this series, we will be looking at how parents can actually make or mar their children’s well-being well into adulthood through their choices and handling of separation at any given time.

While it is true that every child has a unique personality, children generally will tilt towards a particular attitude as a result of how their parents handled them, even from an infant age.

How do you react when, as a 3-month-old baby, your child is crying for attention? Do you ignore the child until you are done with whatever you are preoccupied with? Has your child grown up with the knowledge that if he or she needs you, you will be available?

Is your child a happy, relaxed toddler or a nervous, clingy one? Does he approach you when he is in need of comfort or reassurance? Can your child creatively make his own entertainment? Is your child independent?

The response to these questions will inform us of the parenting style you have been adopting. You can actually determine the type of adult your child should grow into by altering or adjusting the pattern of parenting.

Studies have shown that when children are consistently ignored by their parents in infancy, they grow up developing a self-protective shell around their emotions and will rather not let down their guards and be ‘abandoned’ by another loved one. On the occasion that they too become parents, the vicious circle continues, and another set of distant adults are raised.

How do we prevent this? Watch out for another article soon for answers to this question.

About the Author
Anka Amurawaiye is a mother of four with ages ranging from 17 to 30 years. She has been a counsellor to young adults, teenagers and parents in varying capacities in the last three decades. From being a teacher, she has served with passion concerning parenting issues on the boards of NGOs and as chairperson of reputable school PTAs.

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