Coping With Feelings Of Separation Anxiety
The separation discomfort that many of us are feeling these days is in many cases simply a sign of how well we managed the balance during the pandemic, and how much we need to find a new point of equilibrium now.
One of the hardest things for most of us is to accept that attachment and individuation are always shifting. The balance between them is always changing, requiring that we constantly work to find a place simultaneously for sadness and excitement, loneliness and happiness, and other opposite feelings that emerge at the same time when we or someone we love is separating.
Some ways to manage these opposites include:
Helping An Infant Or Toddler With Separation Anxiety
The earlier you introduce family, friends, and babysitters to your child, the milder their separation anxiety should be, Espinosa-Louissaint says.
Infants and toddlers will warm up to new people if they see their caregiver positively engaged with that person, she says. It signals that its a safe situation.
Before introducing your infant or toddler to someone new:
- wait until your child reaches for the new person
- remind the new person to take it slow
- make sure your child has eaten recently and had a nap
- be reassuring and cheerful
- respect your childs boundaries
How Long Does It Last
How long separation anxiety lasts can vary, depending on the child and how a parent responds. In some cases, depending on a childâs temperament, separation anxiety can last from infancy through the elementary school years.
Separation anxiety that affects an older childâs normal activities can be a sign of a deeper anxiety disorder. If separation anxiety appears out of the blue in an older child, there might be another problem, like bullying or abuse.
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> Do Cats Miss Their Owners When They Go On Holiday
Some cats can miss their owners if they go on holiday as they dont like to spend extended time apart from them. This is not true of all cats though, as some felines are purr-fectly content to hang out with other humans in the household or at a cattery. Getting your cat used to spending time with other people or at boarding facilities from a young age could help to prevent anxiety if you go away on holiday.
You also have the option of bringing in a cat sitter, though you will need to think about how much time they can spend with your cat and how safe they will be, for example being able to get out of the house.
Start With Short Periods
Begin with short separations in your own home. Start with 1 minute and work up to an hour. Leave your child with a familiar person who they know well. For example, a grandparent or a babysitter.
Leaving your child with another caregiver teaches your child how to cope without you. This helps them to become more independent.
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Handling Infant Separation Anxiety
Signs Of Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Dogs suffering from separation anxiety might learn their persons predeparture cueslike putting on a certain uniform, making lunch or organizing a briefcaseand begin to exhibit stress responses before their person even leaves.
Once the dog is alone, they might exhibit any or all of the following hallmarks of separation anxiety:
Pacing: Dogs that are panicked by their persons departure might be unable to settle down and might resort to walking back and forth repeatedly.
Vocalization: Barking and howling are common canine responses to isolation, but dogs with separation anxiety might continue vocalizing the entire time theyre alone.
Loss of appetite: Separation anxiety can cause even the most food-motivated dog to ignore treats and bones.
Destruction: Many dogs suffering from separation anxiety destroy small household itemslike the remote control or pillowsor resort to large-scale destruction, like tearing through furniture, walls, doors or windows.
Elimination: Dogs that are house-trained might have accidents while alone, including diarrhea.
Drooling: Some stressed dogs drool excessively and wind up with a soaked chin and chest.
Escape: Dogs with severe separation anxiety might be able to escape confinement, which can result in injuries.
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How Can I Help Support My Child
There is no reason to feel guilty when you need to leave your child for a short period of time. Focus instead on helping your child to learn how to manage their feelings without you an important part of helping them to become more independent.
Talk about what you will do together later
Part of what makes children anxious when you part is the fear that they might not see you again. Discussing plans for your return helps to ease this fear: After Im finished work, Ill come and pick you up and we can go to the playground and play on the swings together.
Practice short separations and work toward longer ones
Try leaving your child with a trusted friend or relative while you run a quick errand and see how that goes. This will allow your little one to slowly get used to what its like to be apart.
Leave a soft toy or blanket with your child to help ease separations
Does your child have a favourite comfort object? If not, it might be a good idea to introduce one. A special toy can help a child to self-soothe when they are feeling upset.
Comfort your child when they are afraid
When you and your child are together, listen to what they have to say. Make sure to always respond with understanding and compassion and take care not to trivialize their worries. Look for non-verbal cues as well, such as fussing or extra clinginess.
Introduce any new caregiver gradually
Make goodbyes quick and positive
Enough Already What Can I Do
Lets face it: these tools are just as much about helping you as they are about helping your child. It hurts to see them sad, and nothing makes you feel worse as a parent than walking away from your baby when he or she is in tears. You instinct is to fix quickly and comfort. However, if you focus on a plan to help them get stronger and more resilient, as opposed to fixing their fear, youll both feel better in the long run.
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How To Help Your Dog With Separation Anxiety
Its the same story across homes and apartments in KELOLAND: You get up for work in the morning, take the dog out, and then once youre both back inside, you get ready to leave for work. For some pets thats no big deal, but for others leaving your pet home alone all day can be really hard, its made even worse if your pet has separation anxiety.Maggie Pearson is the owner and founder of Tenacious Dog Training. She joined us, along with her adorable pup Gracie, to walk us through some of the facts and myths about separation anxiety.
Medical Problems To Rule Out First
Incontinence Caused by Medical ProblemsSome dogs house soiling is caused by incontinence, a medical condition in which a dog leaks or voids his bladder. Dogs with incontinence problems often seem unaware that theyve soiled. Sometimes they void urine while asleep. A number of medical issuesincluding a urinary tract infection, a weak sphincter caused by old age, hormone-related problems after spay surgery, bladder stones, diabetes, kidney disease, Cushings disease, neurological problems and abnormalities of the genitaliacan cause urinary incontinence in dogs. Before attempting behavior modification for separation anxiety, please see your dogs veterinarian to rule out medical issues.
MedicationsThere are a number of medications that can cause frequent urination and house soiling. If your dog takes any medications, please contact his veterinarian to find out whether or not they might contribute to his house-soiling problems.
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Characteristics Of Separation Anxiety
These are some of the characteristics of separation anxiety, according to Klemanski:
- It is typically recurrent: As a disorder, separation anxiety is typically recurrent and manifests as excessive distress when anticipating or experiencing separation. It can cause persistent and excessive worry about losing someone through harm, illness, injury, accident, abandonment, etc.
- It functions on a spectrum: Separation anxiety functions on a spectrum in the sense that some may have some mild symptoms of it whereas others might experience a great deal of anxiety and distress.
- It is more common in children: Separation anxiety disorder is more common in children, but adolescents and adults may also experience it when they are away from children, partners, or other family members. Mental healthcare providers typically look for signs that the anxiety is not in accordance with ones development. For example, they might expect a toddler to exhibit some signs of separation anxiety, but they would not expect to see many of these signs in an adolescent or older adult without good reason.
Separation anxiety most often affects those who exhibit insecure attachment style, says Hanson.
These are some of the causes of separation anxiety, according to Klemanski:
Create Expectations With Your Child And Add Surprises
As the parent, its important for you to display a matter-of-fact attitude about the separation, and reassure your child that you will return later in the day. It can also help if you send your child in with a favorite toy or a special item from home. But make sure not to bring it out at pick-up time. Instead, wait until mealtime or when your child is with the teacher before revealing your surprise.
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How Can I Tell If My Child Has Separation Anxiety Disorder
All kids experience some separation anxiety. For infants and toddlers it is a normal stage of development which is connected to developing an attachment to parents and other caregivers. In older children, certain separation fears and worries are typical for their age. For example, lets say your child is starting his first day of kindergarten. He is likely to show some anxiety and discomfort when getting up and ready for school and going into the school for the first time. He may even cry when he comes home and say he wants to stay home and not return to school. If this period of anxiety is minor , lasts only a few days, and is replaced by a return to his normal mood and activities, this is probably normal separation anxiety. However, if your child remains significantly distressed about being away from you during the school day , this may be separation anxiety disorder.
Crate Training To Avoid Dog Separation Anxiety
When you are home, have your dog familiar with being in the crate. Start with short periods and then increase the time he spends in it. Feed him in the crate, let him have his favorite bone to be used as a stress reliever while he is in there.
Some toys are developed to entertain, or occupy your dog when you are away. I prefer to use such interactive toys only when I am present. These work because your dogs mind is stimulated while attempting to remove treats from a toy, which then relaxes his mind, and he sleeps.
Do not put water in the cratethat can get very messy! The crate should be your dogs safe haven, a place he feels secure and enjoys. It should be big enough for him to stand upright without his head touching the top, and he should be able to turn around and lay down easily.
If he barks in the crate, look for ways to control that. Teaching him quiet is good, and interrupting the barking so he learns there is no reward from it also works. In extreme cases, a good bark collar can help control the dogs barking in your absence. No one wants annoyed neighbors, and this device will correct him when you are not there.
Place a cage-type crate in the busiest room in the house. The goal is for your dog to accept all the normal every-day movements, noises, and happenings within your home. Your dog must realize it is not necessary for him to be involved in everything because you are the one in charge.
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How Is Separation Anxiety Disorder Diagnosed In A Child
A child psychiatrist or other mental health expert can diagnose SAD. He or she will do a mental health evaluation of your child. For your child to be diagnosed with SAD, his or her worry or fear about being away from family members must last for at least 4 weeks.
If your child has physical complaints, your primary healthcare provider may assess your child to rule out other causes for these symptoms.