Separation Anxiety in Children — Treatments

Separation Anxiety in Children

Separation Anxiety in children, also known as SAD  is very common and comes in various degrees of severity.  Let's look at the symptoms of separation anxiety.
  • Excessive worry or fear of separating from a family member who the child is more attached.
  • Excessive crying when separating from parent.
  • Cling to parent during separation.
  • Feelings of feeling sick and possible vomiting
  • School refusal  for more information on symptoms go to http://psychcentral.com/disorders/sx78.htm

Treatments of Separation Anxiety

For young children going to preschool or Kindergarten I recommend Systematic Desensitization.  Systematic Desensitization is when you slowly get use to your environment. We all get use the barking dog next door over time and don't hear it as much as when the neighbors first brought the dog home. Children desensitize to their environments as well. The difference is instead of sending the child to school full-time rate off the bat, you can send the child in the class for only 10 minutes if that is all the child can handle to start. Slowly increasing the time in the class from 10 minutes to 20 minutes will make sure the child will not become overwhelmed. The child will or may not desensitize to his environment when his anxiety is very high but will if desensitized slowly over time. You are providing a tailored program for your child and may need the help of a psychologist to provide a program for you and talk to the school. You will need a letter from a psychologist stating a diagnosis for your child to receive an aid. Starting  in advance with professional help will cut your stress in the long run. Now let's talk about tricks for the child! I am the author of the children's book, "A Child's Story - Going to School with Anxiety". It is a sensitive story dealing with the inner worries of a little girl coming to terms with her anxiety about going to school. You can sit down and read the book to your child and help your child express his or her fears of going to school. The book explains in easy terms what anxiety is and gives easy counseling techniques to help overcome anxiety. The techniques in this book are all clinical based approaches and were taken from a registered psychologist. All these techniques were used to help my daughter enter kindergarten. A Child's Story - Going to School with Anxiety is also available as an Interactive digital app for just $1.99

Now let's talk about techniques you can do outside of the home!

  • Depending on how anxious your child is, going to drop-ins or groups is another tool you can use.  The more your little one experience the noise and sitting in circle time, the more your child will desensitize to being with other children in a school setting.   Going to library story time is another place to experience noise and sitting still in a group.
  • Also have fun at parks and places like Go Bananas.  Slowly stand further and further from your child but always within sight of one another.
  • It helps to walk in the halls and see the classroom to desensitize your child to his or her environment.
  • Have the school supply you with photos of the school so you can create a book to read to your child often .  Even pictures of the bathroom are important.
  • Visiting the playground regularly over the summer and walking around the school will help your child to familiarize him or herself with the school and possibly meet new friends.
  • Leave your child with a family member or friend for short period and slowly increase the time so you child will have some experience of being separated from you.
A last note:  Many children with anxiety disorder have troubles toilet training especially bowl movements.  It is best to be up front with the school if your child has problems in this area.  Wearing a pull up to school is an option.  When leaving your child always be clear in saying good-bye and not sneak away it only makes things worse in the long run! separation anxiety in childrenFor more information on parenting anxious children check out The Anxious Child a digital magazine for parenting anxious children http://anxietyandschool.org/sample-page/systematic-desensitization/ .

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Posted in Anxiety, Preparing your child for Kindergarten, Separation Anxiety, Symptoms, Treatments


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