Being apart from parents or caregivers might be particularly difficult when there was separation anxiety pre-pandemic. It is also likely complicated with new fears about health and safety.
What is Separation Anxiety? https://childmind.org/article/what-is-separation-anxiety/
Separation anxiety is a normal and expected part of development for infants and during early childhood. It typically subsides when children are 7-8 years of age. Anxiety is also usually temporary (lasting less than a month at a time) and mild. Anxiety to be apart from parents and caregivers serves a protective and adaptive function. Like all types of anxiety, it is the body’s way of trying to protect- just doing so when there is no actual threat of danger.
Strategies to help with typical separation anxiety with babies and toddlers see: https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/conditions/health-library/separation-anxiety.
What can you do to support your children or teens?
These websites also provide helpful tips for parents:
Separation Anxiety. Dos and Don’ts to Help Your Child (and You) be Brave: https://gozen.com/separation-anxiety-dos-and-donts-to-help-your-child-and-you-be-brave/
What to say when your child does not want to go to school: https://www.understood.org/en/learning-thinking-differences/understanding-childs-challenges/talking-with-your-child/what-to-say-when-kids-with-learning-and-thinking-differences-dont-want-to-go-to-school
Books that are helpful for children:
Help your dragon overcome separation anxiety by Steve Herman
What do do when you don’t want to be apart
When is Separation Anxiety a problem?
Some children and teens experience prolonged anxiety about separating and being away from parents/caregivers. The anxiety affects children’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. There are also physical symptoms, usually stomach aches or headaches. Separation anxiety is a problem when it causes extreme distress and negatively affects a child’s ability to function at school or with friends. When anxiety is intense, lasts more than 4 weeks, interferes with going to school or participation in social activities it might indicate a Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).
To meet criteria as a Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD), this lasts longer than a month.
For more information about SAD see:
For parents: Help your child overcome separation anxiety or school refusal by Eisen and Engler.
If the anxiety is intense and interferes with participation in school, learning, or engagement in otherwise enjoyed social activities it is important to get support. Talk with your pediatrician or a child therapist who can evaluate and provide treatment to manage fears and build coping strategies.