How can you help kids who develop separation anxiety disorder after a divorce?

On Behalf of | Aug 5, 2022 | Family Law

Most kids experience separation anxiety as infants and toddlers. Separation anxiety is a normal experience but most kids outgrow it after a certain age. By three, your kids may grow out of separation anxiety, but when you divorce your spouse, it can trigger symptoms again.

During a divorce, kids no longer have both parents in the same home. They may fear the loss of one parent or find themselves overwhelmed at the idea of not having both around at all times. According to MayoClinic, separation anxiety disorder is more severe than simple separation anxiety.

Symptoms of separation anxiety disorder

Kids may receive a diagnosis of separation anxiety disorder when they experience recurrent distress about being away from one or both of their parents. The fear of leaving their parents may interfere with their daily life. Your kids may refuse to sleep at your home or your spouse’s home in fear of being away from one of the parents.

Before visitation with one parent, they may complain of headaches or nausea. Separation anxiety disorder does not indicate that the child does not want to be with the other parent. Instead, it marks a fear of being away from the other.

Treatment of separation anxiety disorder

Children with an untreated separation anxiety disorder may develop panic disorder and other anxiety disorders. Many kids begin to develop anxiety disorders after a divorce. Recognizing the stress is one way you can handle it. Be reassuring and do not invalidate your child’s stress. Kids may need help from a professional to help reduce the symptoms of the disorder.

Regarding separation anxiety disorder, you and your former spouse should work together to model positive coping skills for your children.