By: Julie Sekachev, M.Ed, LPC Associate
Supervised by Melissa Barton, MA, LPC-S
Do you have a child that struggles with separation anxiety? Do you have a partner that is out of town frequently? Are you planning to be away from your child for some time? Are you not sure how to prepare them for the separation? Whether you are in a military family, where separation is frequent, or travel for work, this blog can help you navigate the stress of separation. Separation anxiety is normal for young children. We are hard-wired to depend on attachment figures for survival. Separation anxiety can look like excessive fear or worry that the attachment figure may not return or feel anxious or afraid that an unexpected adverse event may happen. A child may cling to their parents excessively, refuse to go to sleep without the attachment figure, and can experience physical symptoms such as headaches, vomiting, and nausea.
Tips to Help Your Child Cope with Separation Anxiety:
Reframe the Event:
If you are traveling for work, change how you define the event. Instead of looking at a time away as an adverse event, for example, saying, “My work is making me go out of town,” changing it to “I get to help others, learn a new skill, solve a hard problem, etc.” Talk to your child about the meaning behind your work if you are going on a work trip. You can learn more with your child about the food, culture, or what kids like to do for fun in that location, and even find videos online to watch together.
Give a Child Something to Look Forward to:
There are many fun ways to countdown the days for the parent’s return. You could make a DIY count-down calendar until the day the parents return or make a collage of the places they have traveled, even have a candy jar for the days they are gone, and eat one a day until the reunion.
You can get more ideas here.
Add Some Structure to reduce:
Make a routine for when you will talk to your child while away and keep it consistent. Creating structure adds a degree of predictability for your child and allows them to know what to expect. Many apps for traveling parents can ease separation anxiety and help share pictures and updates.
Record a Book for Your Child:
There are many different books available with a recording option. That way, they can read it while you’re away with your voice, or you can make a video of you cooking or making their favorite dish together. The idea is something that they can replay that can help them feel connected to you.
Incorporate Calming Techniques:
Practice breathing exercises with your child together. Depending on your child’s age, you can practice blowing bubbles, having the child pretend to blow out candles on their fingertips, or practice deep breathing by breathing in through the nose, holding 3 seconds, and breathing out through the mouth for 3 seconds.
Begin Counseling for Anxiety in Katy, TX!
If you are ready to help your child find ways to cope with separation anxiety, the therapists at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch can help! We provide individual and family counseling and other mental health services. To begin counseling in Katy, TX, follow these three steps:
- Contact our office to set up an appointment or get more information about counseling for separation anxiety, including play therapy.
- Meet with one of our caring therapists.
- Help your child cope with anxiety and thrive!
Other Services We Offer:
Here at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch, we offer counseling services for people of all ages in areas including counseling for kids, Counseling for young adults, teen counseling, couples counseling, eating disorder treatment, men’s issues, women’s issues, anxiety treatment, depression therapy, trauma counseling, family therapy, and group counseling. We provide helpful information on a variety of mental health topics. Our therapists strive to post blogs regularly. To learn more about our therapists and counseling services, please reach out to the Counseling Center today!