Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety in children is common and very normal. It tends to occur between the ages of six months and three years although it can crop up at other times in response to stress and change. Your child may not like being held by other people or may get upset when you leave the room. They may also cry and protest when you go to new places or leave them with other people, for example, at nursery. 

A child sat down outside on some decking with their back to the camera. They have their arm wrapped around a teddy bear.

Separation anxiety begins when a child starts to understand that they are dependent on their caregiver but this person/people are separate to them and can leave. This can make the child feel worried and insecure.

It is important to understand that this is a normal phase for your child. Although some children struggle with this phase more than others, it will almost certainly get better in time. Here are a few things you can try:

  • Practice separation - try leaving your child for short periods of time, let them know what is happening and when you will be back
  • Say goodbye and go - have a short and predictable goodbye routine, make sure you leave after you have said goodbye
  • Use a comforter - some children like to have a familiar item (cuddly toy or blanket) when they are apart from their main caregiver

If your child is extremely distressed and this does not improve over time, contact your health visitor to discuss your concerns.


For further help please watch this video from the NHS