Back To School: How To Handle Separation Anxiety With Kids

school-busEvery year, the scene plays out in classrooms across the nation. A child clings to his mother, tears welling in his eyes as he pleads with her to stay a few moments longer. The first day of kindergarten is an exciting time for parents and children, but it can also be stressful, especially for kids who have never spent significant time away from Mom and Dad. The good news is that psychologists say separation anxiety is generally short-lived and there are time-tested methods to help reduce everyone’s tension.
The root of the problem Experts say separation anxiety can be spurred by biology and environment.

“What’s known about separation anxiety is there’s not really one single cause for it,” said Wendy Bravo, a marriage and family therapist based in Reno “If the child tends to be more anxious, you know, anxiety-prone, there are certain things in the environment that will trigger it.”

In other words, there are certain children who simply are born anxious.

“Different kids have different strengths and weaknesses,” said Kristen Davis-Coelho, a psychologist for Renown Behavioral Health in Reno. “Some are much more adventurous, really like new experiences, and other ones are a little more tentative. Sometimes it can surprise a parent.”

Biology or not, family psychologist and syndicated columnist John Rosemond said he believes parents almost always play a significant role in the problem.

“When you find a child of school age, kindergarten, first grade, it is almost always associated with parents and specifically a mother who has had difficulty separating from the child from day one,” he said.

The good news? In most cases, separation anxiety is quickly reversible. Davis-Coelho said only about 5% of children suffer from separation anxiety disorder, a severe form that lasts longer than a few weeks. Read more in APP.

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