Children between the ages of 8 and 14 months old can often experience separation anxiety from parental figures. In fact, many kids go through a phase of becoming extremely anxious about the big, unknown world around them, clinging to their parents for support. However, if these fears continue past age 6, lasting longer than four weeks, the child may be suffering from separation anxiety disorder, an anxiety disorder affecting about 4%-5% of boys and girls in the US ages 7 to 11.
A child suffering from separation anxiety disorder exhibits feels of nervousness and fear if separated from their loved ones, usually parents. The child shows unrealistic fears about what may happen if loved ones leave, fearing that something bad will happen in the time they are gone. This anxiety causes significant distress to the child and interferes with their ability to function on a daily basis. Normal activities such as playing with other children or going to school cause the child great distress. In fact, many children with separation anxiety disorder refuse to attend school just to stay with the caregiver. The simple thought of separating from these loved ones may cause the child to develop physical symptoms commonly associated with anxiety including stomach aches and headaches. Separation anxiety disorder can also affect sleep habits as children suffering will not go to sleep when they know their loved one is not close by. Other symptoms of separation anxiety disorder include nightmares about being separated from their loved ones, bedwetting, and tantrums and/or begging the loved one to stay by their side.
Separation anxiety disorder is often caused by a significant traumatic event in a child’s life, which can include events like hospitalization, changing environments, or the death of a pet or loved one at an early age. Additionally, if either parents struggle with anxiety or related disorders, the likelihood of the child developing separation anxiety is greater. If a child with separation anxiety disorder is treated early, the child is able to live a healthier, more stable life on a day to day basis. If separation anxiety disorder is not addressed and treated, anxiety can continue into teenage years and adulthood.
Neurofeedback targets the areas in the brain that are having trouble functioning calmly and efficiently and corrects brain function without the use of medication. Neurofeedback is safe for children as the process is completely natural with no unwanted side effects! When the brain learns to function optimally, a child suffering from separation anxiety disorder will be able to cope with situations where they are separated from their loved one. Psychological symptoms are addressed and corrected within the brain, which also results in the elimination of physical symptoms as well.
Therapy is recommended for children with separation anxiety disorder as well due to the disorder often occurring after a traumatic life event experienced by the child. If the child is able to process the emotions that have resulted from this event, the better the likelihood for future success processing feelings of anxiety. Additionally, parent coaching is recommended so parents can learn how to properly handle moments of anxiety displayed by their children. Connections have been drawn between overprotective parenting and higher levels of separation anxiety. Therefore, parents should never shelter their children from experiencing separation as this will only worsen the condition. Parent coaching will help parents develop a plan to ensure the success of their child in eliminating separation anxiety disorder.
Advanced Neurotherapy offers neurofeedback, therapy, and parent coaching! Schedule a free in-person consultation with our director Dr. Jolene Ross to discuss your child’s unique case.
First image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Second image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net