Separation Anxiety: What to Look For

Children with separation anxiety disorder experience extreme anxiety when they are separated from a caregiver to whom they are attached. While separation anxiety can be developmentally appropriate for young children, the anxiety that children with separation anxiety disorder experience is unusual for their age and development.

Some symptoms parents might notice include:

  • Difficulty saying goodbye to parents
  • Fear that something bad will happen to a family member during separation
  • Tantrums when faced with separation
  • Overwhelming need to know where parents are, and be in touch with them by phone or texting
  • Shadowing one parent constantly around the house
  • Vivid nightmares about family tragedy
  • Physical symptoms in anticipation of separation, like stomachaches, headaches and dizziness
  • Extended absences from school and avoidance of playdates

Younger children are mostly anxious at the time of separation, while older kids develop more anticipatory anxiety.

What Does Anxiety Look Like in the Classroom?