The normal symptoms of kids suffering from Separation Anxiety are crying, throwing tantrums, and clinging. The natural course of action to be taken by parents is to ease the child’s worry, be patient, set limits gently but firmly. In time, the child’s anxiety will naturally fade. The worries and the accompanying bouts of crying will be gone. However, if no matter how patient a parent is the child still experiences separation anxiety, it may be a cause for worry already as it may now be a bigger problem: Separation Anxiety Disorder.
For a normal separation anxiety in kids, these steps will help ease a child’s mind:
Practice separation. You can leave your child with an adult you can trust for brief periods and short distances at first.
Develop a “goodbye” ritual. It can be as simple as a wave of your hand or a goodbye kiss.
Keep familiar surroundings when possible and make new surroundings familiar.
Leave without fanfare. I read somewhere about this from a single parent. She wouldn’t let her kids throw tantrums or cry when she’s leaving the house. She will firmly tell them that she will be back soon and that they should behave and respect their nanny. She will then go out of the house and leave just like that. She wouldn’t let any of her kids stall her unless it is very important. I think that’s what this step is all about.
Minimize scary television. I remember hating those scary threats of some of my elders when I was a kid. Like a ghost will take me if I misbehave or that a bad man will come get me if I don’t follow orders, something like that. It doesn’t help to scare a kid! Keep that in mind.
Try not to give in. It’s so easy to feel pity for your child, and just give in to what he/she wants. But you know what? It can cause more harm than good. It will not break the cycle of separation anxiety. It can actually make it more of a problem because the child slowly learns how to use emotional blackmail to his/her advantage.