8 Clear steps to help your child with separation anxiety

If you do notice symptoms of separation anxiety in your child, the best thing you can do is to access early treatment and support.  This can help to ease symptoms and improve your child’s quality of life as they grow up.

Here are 8 ideas to explore in supporting your teenager:

1. Normalise Let your teenager know that experiencing anxiety symptoms is a normal part of growing up and that they are not alone in feeling this way.

2. Share Encourage them to share their symptoms of separation anxiety. Talking can help to reduce the amount of anxiety they feel.

3. Acknowledge Acknowledge your teenager’s feelings and worries. They are very real for your child even if you find them hard to understand. Rather than telling them “don’t worry”, or “that won’t happen”, let them know you’ve heard and understood them. Let them know you will work through the worries together.

4. Reassure Reassure and encourage in a way which promotes opportunities for new learning. Try something like, “I really think you can do this. You were proud of yourself when you managed to go to your gym class for 20 minutes last week.  Maybe you could try staying for an extra 10 minutes this week?”. Be aware of providing excessive reassurance. This will contribute to a cycle of reassurance-seeking.

5. Nurture Help your child feel safe and secure by spending quality time with them. Maybe you could ask if they need help with routines or planning?  You could arrange some activities together or make plans to see people that your child likes and trusts.

6. Be Consistent If a treatment plan is put in place, help your teenager to stick with it. This will help to prevent relapses or the worsening of symptoms.

7. Foster Self-Compassion Encourage positive self-talk and self-compassion in your teenager. Model these skills when you are with them. Anxious children and teenagers tend to put themselves down. It’s important to help them recognise positive steps or positive outcomes.

8. Access Help Know how and where to access professional help. Speak to your family doctor or healthcare provider.