Young Kids & Separation Anxiety

Our youngest, Eve, has always been a little more sensitive than other kids.

I’ve written before about what we tried to do about her worries. Recently, she has started showing what we’ve referred to as separation anxiety.

When I go to work, or her five year old sister goes to school, or her mum has to go out, she clings on and cries. She doesn’t want anyone to go. “I don’t want you to go to work, Daddy”, along with tears, has become a regular part of our mornings. She also has been getting upset when it comes to going into nursery and leaving mum behind.

We sought advice, and it was suggested that she is feeling a lack of control. Her behaviour is her trying to have control over a situation and failing, which makes things worse.

Separation Anxiety


Given that she is four, there are many aspects of her life where she won’t have any control.

What we are going to have to do is

  • Not ask her direct questions, but give her a list of choices
    This is particularly relevant when other adults are there. She is very shy. If you ask a shy child an open question, you’re not going to get much of an answer. If you give them choices, then they can at least pick one. It makes them feel like they’ve made a choice, had some control, and will also make them more confident than being given a conversation space and being pressured to fill it.
  • Speak positively about her day at nursery
    Both before she goes and when she gets home, we will talk up her nursery activities. By being so enthusiastic about it, she will hopefully ‘buy in’ to this and be far less concerned with the fact she’s leaving mum behind.

It’s tough. The above will help, but it isn’t the whole answer.

We’ve bought a book on how to cope with an anxious child. We have a specialist nurse coming to us to help with more advice. It’s just a matter of being very aware, attentive and patient. We’re hopeful that continuous assurement and following the above steps will generate positive results and make Eve a little less worried about being away from her parents.


  1. 23 January 2017

    Great post!

    That ‘give her choices’ part is so important when are trying to deal with separation anxiety with a child!

  2. 23 January 2017

    We have had this greatly with our daughter and it ebbs and flows. I think these two tips you’ve outlined above are really important – two things that I have done with my daughter since she started at daycare and right into nursery school.

  3. 23 January 2017

    I think that’s a really good idea to give your daughter choices – involving her so that she feels more in control. I hope she feels better soon 🙂

  4. 23 January 2017

    We have this with my daughter since she started school in September, it’s been really difficult actually. Giving choices is a great tip, giving them back the control may well be the answer!

  5. 23 January 2017

    Aw bless her, I think that giving her choice would help with her separation anxiety because it makes her feel like she is still in control x

  6. 24 January 2017

    Just giving her lots of time and attention when you are together should make her feel securely attached. And help her become independent. Best of luck with it, really common at this age though.

  7. 24 January 2017

    This is a great post! Lots of children suffer this problem when starting to go to nursery/school and sometimes parents don’t know what to do x

  8. 25 January 2017

    That’s really interesting and hope she gets better with the control suggestions you’re offering to her. Staying positive is good for any person in my opinion anyway 🙂

  9. 26 January 2017

    Our two year old has this along with other forms of anxiety, we are just learning about it and how best to help her. We are home educating so dont have to worry about what will happen with that just if either me or her dad have to go out for long periods of time, she doesnt do good without me.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.