What is Parental Separation Anxiety?

Ellen Lees
By Ellen Lees,
updated on May 5, 2022

What is Parental Separation Anxiety?

You may have heard of the term 'separation anxiety', usually relating to children and in some cases, pets.

In children, this condition will typically ease as they grow older - it’s a natural part of their development after all. But separation anxiety doesn’t only affect children. Parents can also struggle with strong, overwhelming feelings of anxiety at the prospect of leaving their children.

Parental separation anxiety can manifest in many ways, for different people. It may develop during pregnancy, postnatal or while their child grows up. It can be triggered as a result of a traumatic birth, perinatal or postnatal anxiety, existing anxiety or it may be more simple - by the act of becoming a parent.

The anxiety may appear when the child begins nursery or starts school, or during the first weeks, months or years of the child’s life. It may present itself as low mood, sadness, panic, excessive worrying or anger, to name a few. Parents may feel as though a part of them is missing, they cannot bring themselves to leave their child - no matter how safe they will be.

However it presents itself, you’re not alone in this and there are ways you can manage how you feel. If you’re experiencing parental separation anxiety, consider talking to a professional - like a counsellor. They can recommend relaxation techniques to help you cope, and work with you to overcome these feelings, one step at a time.

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