“I miss you;” three little words that indicate your importance to another person. Everyone, even adults, suffer from separation anxiety. Human beings form attachments and when that bond of attachment is stretched, broken, or tested, we experience separation anxiety. Spouses who find themselves separated for several days will call one another and talk as a way of managing stress associated with separation anxiety. “Wish you were here,” is another phrase you will often encounter when adults with language experience separation anxiety.
Every creature that has the ability for form an emotional attachment to another creature will suffer from separation anxiety. Even pets, when the owners leave for work, or elsewhere, sometimes have fits of separation anxiety Separation anxiety in dogs often leads to ceaseless barking and crying and it’s all because we all have the capacity to form attachments. This starts in childhood.
Childhood Separation Anxiety
An event that often occurs is when the child bids a teary and tantrum-filled goodbye to a temporarily departing caregiver in his early years. Sometimes around the child’s first birthday, it is not uncommon for him to develop separation anxiety, which simply means that the child gets easily upset when the parent leaves him with someone else.
Separation anxiety may be thought of as being a normal part of childhood development but it is quite unsettling as well. One needs to understand what the child is experiencing as well as think up some strategies about how to cope with such situations which would help both the parents as well as the child to cope with periods of separation.
Separation anxiety first develops in the child when it gets separated from caregivers to whom it has become attached and accustomed to having around all the time. As long as they feel that their needs are being adequately met they will adjust well to circumstances, especially when they are as young as six months old. Helping a child learn to cope with stress is an invaluable gift to your child.
Separation Anxiety as it relates to the Experience of Time for Infants
The child aged between four and seven months develops object permanence and learns that people exist even when they are out of visible range and this is the time when the child begins games which includes dropping things over the side of high objects, looking for them and expecting adults to retrieve them. This is repeated in the case when the parent leaves but at this stage of its development the child does not yet understand the concept of time and thus, does not know when the parent will return. For children, anxiety is much more uncomfortable as they do not have the language or cognative ability to cope with that stress.
When the child grows to one year of age, he becomes more independent but is still more uncertain about being separated from the parent and it is now when separation anxiety develops further, resulting in the child becoming more agitated and upset. The separation anxiety may vary from child to child and some children may feel it at a later age and still others may only feel it when they are more than two years of age, while some may not experience it all.
This leads one to wonder how long does the separation anxiety last in the child and the answer seems to be that it varies from child to child. It is also dependent on how well the child and the parent adjust and respond to each other and there are some children whose temperament leads them to feel separation anxiety throughout their elementary school years. And, when separation anxiety begins to interfere with normal activities it may be seen as being a sign of deeper anxiety disorders.