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    Separation Anxiety and Your Child

    By Kristen Houghton     

    The mind of a child is a mystery to parents and so we often, without meaning to do so, dismiss childhood fears. Either we ourselves never had any real fears or, from the level of adulthood, we see them in a clearer light and know they were nothing more than our own imaginings.

    If your child suffers from separation anxiety, and you are a working mother, it can be at once upsetting and frustrating. You need to leave her with a caretaker yet she cries to be with you. Your heart breaks because the child fears being away from you and you want to be there to comfort her, yet you know that you have an obligation to be at work. Even in the year 2007, not too many places of business will understand or tolerate excessive absences or frequent late arrivals.

    What can you do? You can start by addressing and pinpointing what is causing the anxiety.

    Do not dismiss your child’s fears as just “something she will grow out of eventually.” Take her fears very seriously. You are the sun to your child, her world revolves around you. Sit down and talk with her about why she does not want to be away from you. Something as simple as you going for minor dental surgery can cause a child to become panicky. Children hear and observe much more than we realize from TV and conversations. If your child heard the words “surgery” and “die” in a conversation, she may think something will happen to you.

    Has someone in the family left due to divorce or other reasons? Has a friend of theirs had a parent leave? Children are very conscious of loss. They are unable to accept a person leaving and fear everyone they love will go away.

    The media exerts a strong influence on children. Monitor what your child watches on TV and make sure there is no inappropriate material in any show. Even cartoons can cause fears in a child. Remember, older children may watch shows that have subject matter which can frighten a younger child. These programs should be watched after the younger sibling is asleep and with the volume lowered.

    Does your child feel safe with her caretaker? If there are other children in the same care group, is one of them bullying your child? Have a serious and open talk with the caretaker. Find out about all people who come in contact with your child during the day. This is your right as a parent and is essential to your child’s welfare. Ask any and all questions you feel are pertinent to the situation. Do not accept ambiguous or “I-don’t-know” answers. A responsible caretaker should know exactly what is going on with the children in her care. Lastly, talk with your child often. Let her know that you are there for her. Keeping communication open allows a child to express her fears in safety and lets you help calm and reassure her.

    Written by Kristen HoughtonRate this article:

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