Getting back to normal: Addressing separation anxiety with your child

With most families stuck at home, it's easy for kids to be more attached to parents and caregivers.

Posted: Apr 27, 2020 6:21 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Social Distancing is creating a new normal for many families, but what happens when it's time to go back to work or school?

The Hamilton Center says kids may show signs of separation anxiety. Experts say it's mostly seen in a child's early years.

With most families stuck at home, it's easy for kids to be more attached to parents and caregivers.

As places start to reopen, experts suggest practicing your child's old routine to help ease the transition.

"Try to get back waking up at a normal hour," said Executive Director of Clinical Services Emily Owens, "Having breakfast at the same time that they would if they were going to school, doing some of that school work during the day and then having that bedtime routine as well."

Owens says it typically takes kids a few weeks to get adjusted to the old routine. 

However, if you notice your child is still having problems, after about four weeks, it's a good idea to speak with a professional.

"This time of having increased anxiety and fear, especially when you're a child, is totally normal," said Owens, "It's when it starts to become very excessive, and constant, is when you want to delve into that more."

Owens says excessive and constant anxiety/fear could be caused by a life stressor. 

Experts say signs of possible separation anxiety in kids include:

  • Fearfulness
  • Clinginess
  • Somatic issues (stomach / headaches)
  • Crying
  • Nightmares/dreams associated with separation

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