Ask the Expert : Separation Anxiety in Children and How to Deal with It



It’s the start of 2019 – and that means a new school year and even possibly a new school environment. It may be your child’s first time at school or perhaps that long vacation your family went on has taken a toll on the momentum of attending school for your pre-schooler.

Let’s take a look at what separation anxiety is about, some low-downs of it in pre-schoolers and how can we do our part to ease the little ones back to school again.


What is Separation Anxiety amongst children?

Generally, separation anxiety refers to the emotional stress that children experience when parting from figures of attachment such as guardians, caretakers or parents. This is most common (and also normal) in the early toddler years. In fact, it is a normal part of their development. Each child deals with separation anxiety differently. However, some healthy and usual reactions to separations can be crying, throwing tantrums or clinginess.

But rest assured, separation anxiety tends to fade off as they get older and as parents, you can ease your child’s separation anxiety is a few ways.


How can I help my children cope with this?

Fret not! Once we have determined the specific, underlying cause of your child’s stress, it is a simple matter of prescribing the correct “medicine” to ease this transition in their growing years. Generally, it would help to follow these steps:

  1. Practice separation. Start by leaving your child with a caregiver for brief periods and short distances. Gradually increasing your duration and distance, your child will slowly get used to separation and be more comfortable on their own.
  2. Don’t make a big deal out of it. A quick “goodbye ritual” involving a kiss and a wave would assure your child that you will be returning; as opposed to being emotional, which would make it hard for you, and your child to accept.
  3. Follow through on your promises. It is important that you return to your child at the time you promised. This can help build and develop your child’s confidence that they can handle separation.
  4. Always be patient and consistent with your child.


Should the problem persist, there are also other measures a parent can pursue which can be boiled down to this: understand your child’s fears and face them together. Have a conversation with your child about their feelings and teach them – in an encouraging manner – on how to deal with them. That way, your child is more likely to feel as though he is a valued individual that can place a sense of security in his relationship with you, and in himself!


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About the Expert: Ms Xaviera Lim

Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse Xaviera Lim

In her role as Cluster Principal at Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse, Xaviera is involved in branding management, and all operational matters, including service assurance and adherence to licensing regulations for all centres. With a degree in Early Childhood Education (Honours) and a Diploma in Early Childhood Education (Leadership), Xaviera also serves a mentorship role to all principals at Kiddiwinkie.

As an advocate for pre-school education, Xaviera believes that education should always be relevant to a child’s existence; constantly evolving to meet future challenges.