Normal Separation Anxiety or Separation Anxiety Disorder SAD?

child development childcare fear mumatherapy mums & tots magazine parental burnout parenting preventing parental burnout sad separation anxiety separation anxiety disorder Oct 04, 2023
Emma Grant Author holding the Autumn issue of mums and tots magazine about SAD Separation Anxiety Disorder with a baby on her lap

How can you tell if how your child is feeling is a normal response to separation or a more serious issue?

Separation anxiety disorder, or SAD, is more extreme than usual separation anxiety.

New experiences may cause your child to feel uneasy, but SAD is extreme fear and distress when separated from you.

If they cling to you when you go to the bathroom, and are no longer interested in activities, days out, or playing with other children, it could be SAD.

SAD creates intense upset and just the thought of a playdate at a friend’s house can cause panic and upset stomachs or sickness. Fearing something terrible will happen to you when parted is debilitating and can affect every area of their lives. It can cause insomnia, fearing you won’t be there when they wake up. Anxiety can also suppress their appetite. And all of that can make your child clingy and emotional. 

SAD is a more serious emotional issue that needs professional help. It’s tricky to tell the difference between SAD and normal separation anxiety, but help is available for both.

All children develop and progress at different times. If, however, your child is crying for a month, withdrawn and not engaging with others, speak to a medical professional. Seeking help as soon as possible will help long term.

Children learn to adapt to new settings, people and situations, when given time, patience and understanding. We may know a place such as nursery is safe to send our children, but our children may not, so we have to positively communicate this to them.

Your child is constantly seeking reassurance and comfort that all will be well and you’ll always be there for them. But it’s part of life and their personal growth to learn to be without you.

You can read the full article about helping your child through separation anxiety in the Autumn issue of mums and tots magazine.  Link for digital version below.

Stay Present, with love Em x


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