A  A  A   Print
Separation AnxietyAnsiedad Provocada por la Separación

Separation Anxiety

What is separation anxiety?

Part of a baby's normal development is learning that separations from parents are not permanent. Young babies do not understand time, so they think a parent who walks out of the room is gone forever. Also, they have not yet developed the concept of object permanence—that a hidden object is still there, it just cannot be seen. Without these concepts, babies can become anxious and fearful when a parent leaves their sight. Separation anxiety is usually at its peak between 10 and 18 months. It typically ends by the time a child is 3 years old.

What are the signs of separation anxiety?

Babies experiencing separation anxiety fear that a parent will leave and not return. The fear may be worsened in the presence of a stranger. Typical responses of babies experiencing this normal phase of development may include the following:

  • Crying when you leave the room

  • Clinging or crying, especially in new situations

  • Awakening and crying at night after previously sleeping through the night

  • Refusal to go to sleep without parent nearby

How can you help your child with separation anxiety?

Children who feel secure are better able to handle separations. Cuddling and comforting your child when you are together can help him or her feel more secure. Other ways to help your child with separations include the following:

  • Comfort and reassure your child when he or she is afraid.

  • At home, help your baby learn independence by allowing him or her to crawl to other (safe) rooms for a short period of time alone.

  • Tell your baby if you are going to another room and that you will be back; then come back.

  • Plan your separations when your baby is rested and fed, rather than before a nap or meal.

  • Introduce new people and places gradually, allowing your baby time to get to know a new care provider.

  • Do not prolong good-byes and have the sitter distract your baby or child with a toy as you leave.

  • Introduce a transitional object such as a blanket or soft toy to help ease separations.

  • For night awakenings, comfort and reassure your child by patting and soothing, but avoid letting your child get out of bed.

 
Today's Interactive Tools
Related Items

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.