EP18 - Easing Separation Anxiety in Children and Adults
While it is normal for most kids to feel a degree of separation anxiety from their caregivers in certain circumstances, there are ways to manage the separation anxiety effectively to prevent children’s separation anxiety disorder, which can then lead to adult separation anxiety disorder in the future. Separation anxiety disorder occurs when an individual experiences excessive fear or anxiety concerning separation from those they are attached to.
In this episode, we reveal seven strategies to help you and your child manage separation anxiety so that you and your child are both able to cope effectively in situations where separation anxiety may arise.
Be sure to listen for:
· Why separation anxiety occurs
· The physical and psychological signs and symptoms of separation anxiety in children and adults
· How to use rituals and mindfulness as effective tools to manage separation anxiety
· How to help a child get out of their comfort zone
· How to foster independence in your child with your support
· Strategies to use when dropping your child off on the first day of school
· Other tools to include in your family separation anxiety plan
About the Hosts:
About Dimple Arora – Founder of Mindful Evolution
Dimple Arora is the founder of Mindful Evolution (ME) — a parenting movement that aims to empower parents and their kids towards positive transformation and life changing results...one thought, one emotion and one choice at a time.
Dimple is an expert in women and teen empowerment and specializes in helping individuals reduce the debilitating effects of stress and anxiety using mindfulness, nutrition, EFT tapping and other energy psychology modalities. Dimple is a Certified Life Coach, EFT and NLP Practitioner, Holistic Nutritionist and Energy Therapist. She holds degrees in mathematics, business, and education and was previously employed in the corporate world and as a high school math teacher.
You can book a complimentary coaching call with Dimple on her website at https://www.mindfulevolution.ca and connect with her on social media.
About Shaista Fatehali – Founder of Thrive Kids
Shaista Fatehali is the founder of Thrive Kids BC where she works with children and families to help nurture connection, empower a sense of self - worth and discover what is needed for individual families to thrive. Shaista is a speaker and the author of the children’s book BACK HOME; which has received accolades nationwide. She is a certified children’s and parent life coach and works with clients to build soft skills such as interpersonal awareness, effective communication, emotional agility emotional regulation, problem solving, transition planning and mindfulness . As a teacher and mother of two young girls, her true passion lies in giving her children, her students and clients the tools to reach their most true authentic selves.
To book a complimentary call with Shaista or to learn more about Shaista and the programs she offers at Thrive Kids BC, please visit her website at https://thrivekidsbc.ca/
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/thrivekidsbc/
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Imagine being present calm and connected, while creating a family environment where everyone can thrive.Dimple Arora:
Welcome to the IM mom parenting podcast, providing inspiration and actionable steps to manifest the meaningful and magical life you desire for you and your family.Shaista Fatehali:
We are your hosts dimple, Aurora, founder of mindful evolution and shift that the founder of Thrive kids.Dimple Arora:
Thank you for sharing the I am mom journey with us. Let's get started.Shaista Fatehali:
Welcome back, everyone, we are so grateful to have you here with us today. So in our episode, today, we're going to take a deep dive into a topic most if not all of us have experienced before. And this is separation anxiety, we will discuss what separation anxiety is. And it's something that just is not manifested in kids. We are going to talk about how when separation anxiety gets past a developmental stage. It can be classified as separation anxiety disorder, we'll describe the symptoms, how it manifests, and what you can do to help you and your child now, before developing into Separation Anxiety Disorder.Dimple Arora:
This is such a common topic we often hear parents speaking about separation anxiety, at bedtime separation anxiety when kids are going back to school. And right now we're at a time where our kids and us as adults may be experiencing heightened separation anxiety as we transition back to school and, and we get back into the normal world of working outside the home. And so separation anxiety happens when somebody experiences excessive fear or anxiety concerning separation from those that they're attached to. So it could be a parent, any close blood relative. And I was surprised to learn that it can exist in adults as well. So there are adults who experience separation anxiety from their spouse or intimate partner, or even their roommate. So why is this happening though, it's usually normal for young children to feel upset or worried when they're faced with routine separations from their parents. But with adults, when they are separated, say from a boyfriend or girlfriend, a spouse that goes away for a period of time on a vacation or business trip even to the store. Adults can experience this feeling of being worried or upset where it actually impairs their daily life.Shaista Fatehali:
Mm hmm. Yeah, exactly. And it really stems from childhood, right, when you are looking at separation, anxiety disorder in adults. So the first thing though, to know is that young kids are going to experience separation anxiety, that is normal, right. And just like with other forms of anxiety, it's serves as a very useful evolutionary function, right? Because kids will be close to their caregivers and caregivers are also experiencing anxiety around sending their children to other areas or other people to look after them, because we want to keep them close, right. But if it becomes to a point where it is interrupting daily functions and extending for longer periods of time, or is past a developmental stage, that is when the doctor will diagnose it, and we'll cultivate an appropriate treatment plan. But what are some things that we can look for right now, right in terms of separation, anxiety, some common things that we can see in our kits. So some of the symptoms to look out for our if your child is terrified to sleep alone, right. So if they're wanting to have someone sleep with them, that could be a sign of separation anxiety. Another sign is if they're worrying about a parent, the safety of a parent or a loved one, if they're refusing to go to school or crying each day before school, if they're having nightmares about separation If they're having physical complaints like muscle pains and stomach aches, not wanting to be alone at all is another symptom of separation anxiety. Also, if they are chronically worried about getting lost, and having some unusual safety concerns, that is also a common symptom of chronic separation anxiety, right. And when they're not with they're being very, very clingy in a way that's not developmentally appropriate. Like if a 10 year old doesn't want to be with their friends, and just wants to be with their parents all the time. That could also be a sign that your child may be dealing with some chronic separation anxiety.Dimple Arora:
And it's a common developmental stage for kids, I would say from one years old to six years old to experience some form of separation anxiety. When it gets beyond that, you'll notice it if your child is asking certain questions like, what if I get lost? Or something bad happens to me? Or are you sure that you're going to pick me up after school? You know, sometimes they may think something bad is going to happen to you as a parent, right? Are you going to be okay, Mama? Are you going to be saved? Or what if I get lost? Or what if you get lost? Right? So these are some of the questions that they will ask if they are experiencing the separation anxiety. And in adults, they may have thoughts like what if my boss asks me to stay late? And? Or what if my spouse has to go away to that conference? What am I going to do at home alone? And so it manifests in a variety of worrisome thoughts, right, and these worrisome thoughts can lead to this feeling of helplessness, and, and, and sadness and an extreme anxiety over leaving the person that they are they formed that attachment with. And I also want to mention the physical symptoms that can happen and they're common for both parents, I mean, adults and children. So the stomach aches, the the nausea, the racing heart, right, the shortness of breath, the headaches are such a common one. So these are the symptoms show up the same in in adults and in children as well.Shaista Fatehali:
Yeah, and behaviorally, this impedes daily functioning, right. So for example, again, with that child, who doesn't want to be with their friends, because they do not want to leave their mom or dad, or in adults, they're not going to attend a function as social work function, because they don't want to be separated from their partner at home. So it shows up in many ways. But there are strategies that you can use as parents right now, to work with your child when they're having some common experiences of separation anxiety. And the first thing that you really want to do is to try and have a bit of a ritual for your child. So a lot of the times when you are leaving your child, you want to create some sort of goodbye ritual, right? Whether it is some kids like to have a kiss or a handshake, or just say goodbye. But building in a ritual is really important. For the younger, younger kids. It might even be like taking a stuffy or taking a blanket, but it has to be something comfortable and short. Right? So that way your children know that they are going to be you are going to be leaving them and that they are going to be okay.Dimple Arora:
Yes, the rituals are very important. I also want to just before we go into these tips that we have seven tips for you. But I want to also just mention that these adults who have the separation anxiety, they report that they were always slightly anxious when they were a child. So they struggled in childhood as well. And, and while that's normal, what happened to these people is that they were not able to adapt to the separation and the anxiety that they were feeling without being close to their loved ones. So it became more extreme than protected. And what happens is when we have when we're faced with this threat, but then, you know, in small doses, it's fine, it's useful. But as situations unfold, and they continue, and they repeat an individual usually adapts to the separation. But for these people, they never really adapted well. And that's why we're giving you the seven tips so that you can prevent this separation anxiety from getting worse.Shaista Fatehali:
So talking about senses is another way in which we can help our child with separation anxiety, right, so looking at your five senses, and making sure that you have opportunities where your child is able to be mindful about what is going on in their environment.Dimple Arora:
So what we can do is help them to learn how to broaden their senses. So ask them what they're seeing what they're hearing, get them to smell the roses and blow out the candles. So it helps them to improve their attention in any experience, and it brings them to the present moment. So whatever they're afraid or worried about in the moment, it won't be so activated in their brain, if they are in the present moment.Shaista Fatehali:
Exactly. And that's something that we can also practice as well, right as, as adults and showing that to our kids. Another tip is exposure, right. And in terms of exposure, you can help your child do this in various ways. One way is to help them to see what's going to be happening in the future. So for example, some kids like to like like to have a countdown, right? When they have this countdown, they know what to expect, when they know what to expect, they are getting exposed to it, because they are able to know what is going to happen, right. And the way that you do that is by taking them let's say for example, it is to a just to begin school, so you're taking them to the playground, or you're taking them to a building. And when you set up a countdown, they will know that they are going to this building at a particular time or a particular date. So they're having that exposure and as well as having some familiarity around it.Dimple Arora:
Yeah, and what we're doing with building this familiarity is really just building the neural pathways in the brain. So it gives them this, this sense of they've done this before, and their brain has developed that neural pathway so that they can feel like within their comfort zone, whenever they start to do that task or go into that experience or attend that event. They their brain is already familiar with it. So that is the whole point of giving them the exposure beforehand, so that their brain can be familiar with the experience before it even happens.Shaista Fatehali:
Sometimes we call this visualizing as well, right. So that's another really great tip. So visualizing what your first day of school as an example will look like right, what's going to happen before it happens. And a really good suggestion to remember is not all kids are going to feel anxious and worried about their first day of school. But if they are, then this is a really good suggestion to use and strategy to use with them.Dimple Arora:
And this is a good strategy to use in life with any experience that we want to be successful at. It's such a common technique used by Olympic athletes and motivational speakers. So visualization is huge and a huge part of manifesting what you want to create in your life and be successful at.Shaista Fatehali:
So another tip that we have for you is around facing fears. And it's common for us as parents when we see our children upset to want to go in and save them, right. So we really want to equip our children with the ability to come out of their comfort zone with support and face their fears. So for For example, if you have a child that is starting kindergarten, for example, and they are really worried about meeting their teacher, so it's not that you're just going to drop them off, and then take off. But what you are going to do is try and after you have built this exposure is to enable your child and empower your child to go and maybe talk to the teacher while you're a few feet behind. Right. So you're giving the the child the confidence to face their fears, with support.Dimple Arora:
Yes, and it's so important to teach children at a young age that when they avoid doing what they're afraid of, it's only going to provide short term relief. And that relief, never lost. Because eventually that child will feel sadness, they'll feel shame for having avoided that experience. And often the exact avoidance strategy that they are using to feel better and prevent that outcome that they're afraid of, is actually what's going to create the outcome that they're trying to avoid, which is appearing in calm and competent and feeling anxious. So that's going to actually make them feel worse. So we want to teach them to face their fears with those small steps, and get them out of their comfort zone and build those neural pathways. And that's the only way that they're going to build confidence and mastery, and that their anxiety will diminish in the process.