Parenting a toddler can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it also has its challenges. Parents of toddlers often grapple with the issue of separation anxiety, a frequent problem in this age group. If your child is in their terrible twos, you may be wondering, how long does separation anxiety last in 2 year olds?
Separation anxiety disorders are not limited to toddlers. Many adults struggle with how to handle separation anxiety as well.
In this blog post, we’ll explore what toddler separation anxiety means and how long does separation anxiety last in 2 year olds.
We’ll also share some coping strategies for when separation anxiety starts so you can properly deal with these feelings of distress.
Table of Contents
What is Separation Anxiety?
Experiencing separation anxiety is common among toddlers and young children. Separation anxiety disorder refers to when a child feels anxious or scared when separated from their parents, caregivers, or other familiar people.
A child’s separation anxiety can demonstrate physical symptoms such as stomachaches, headaches, difficulty sleeping, and clinginess to the parent or caregiver.
Separation anxiety starts at around 8 months and may last until they are 3 years old. Separation fears can be dreadful for small children as they anguish being apart from loved ones they are most familiar with. A child’s separation anxiety may occur in older kids but it’s more common in younger ones.
Signs and Symptoms of a Child’s Anxiety
Common indications of a child’s separation anxiety may include:
- Nonstop crying when apart from parents or caregivers.
- Refusal to go to school.
- Clinging behavior.
- Nighttime separation anxiety.
- Refusal to sleep alone.
- Outbursts at bedtime.
- Fearfulness around strangers.
- Falling ill during separations (e.g., abdominal pain).
- Difficulty focusing on school activities.
- Intense concern about losing loved ones or something bad occurring while they are apart (e.g., car accident).
Parents and kids alike may find it hard to cope with separation anxiety, but by recognizing its signs and sources, parents can arm their children for successful departures. In the next section, we’ll look into how long does separation anxiety last in 2-year-olds as well as approaches to mitigate it.
How Long Does Separation Anxiety Last in 2 Year Olds?
At this age, toddlers will often cry or throw tantrums when separated from their parents or primary caregiver. They may also show signs of distress such as clinging, fearfulness, restlessness, refusal to sleep alone, and difficulty calming down after being reunited with their parent/caregiver.
It’s important not to take these behaviors personally. A toddler’s separation anxiety outbursts are your child’s way of expressing their need for security and reassurance during this difficult transition period.
Toddler separation anxiety is expected to last up until about 3 years old, with its peak at 18-24 months. The good news is that it will gradually decrease over time.
Toddlers and preschoolers eventually outgrow separation anxiety as they get older. While it is normal for young children to experience some degree of fear or distress when separated from their parents or caregivers, this goes away as they become more independent and confident in themselves.
For most 2-year-olds who have been attending daycare for a while, leaving their parents at drop-off is not an issue. However, if the child is feeling ill or under stress due to a change in their routine such as vacation or illness, then clinging behavior may occur again temporarily. This regression should pass with time but can take several months depending on the individual child’s development level.
Coping Strategies for Toddlers Who Experience Separation Anxiety
It can be difficult for parents to deal with their child’s anxiety. Here are some tips and strategies that may help reduce stress during times when you cannot avoid separation.
Before departing, establish a calm atmosphere to make your child feel secure. Try spending time together doing activities they enjoy such as reading books or playing games. Discuss the exciting plans for when you reunite so your little one has something to anticipate.
If possible, leave an item from home like a stuffed animal or blanket with them so they have something familiar and comforting in your absence.
Lastly, encouraging independence through small tasks like getting dressed or making their own snack could give them a sense of accomplishment. This could boost their confidence level in overcoming their separation fear.
Do I Need to Worry When Children Experience Anxiety?
Is your child experiencing separation anxiety? When should you worry?
When it comes to toddlers, there are a few key signs that parents should look out for. If your toddler is exhibiting any of the following behaviors, it may be time to seek professional help.
Toddlers with excessive worrying may become clingy or overly anxious when separated from their parents or caregiver. They might also express fears about being alone, such as worries about monsters in the dark or bad things happening while they’re away from home.
Nighttime separation anxiety can lead to difficulty falling asleep and frequent nightmares. Some children will even wake up in the middle of the night screaming for their parents because they fear something bad has happened while they were sleeping.
When faced with an unfamiliar situation, some toddlers will revert back to behaviors more common in younger babies — such as thumb-sucking or bedwetting — in order to feel safe and secure again.
A child who exhibits avoidance behavior may try hard not to go places where they cannot avoid separation such as school trips or sleepovers at friends’ houses. They might also refuse activities like swimming lessons if no one else can attend with them.
Separation anxiety in toddlers is a normal part of child development and can be managed with patience, understanding, and the right resources. While it may seem overwhelming at times, parents should remember that separation anxiety in 2-year-olds typically does not last long.
With some extra attention to their needs during this time, parents can help their toddlers through this stage of emotional development. By using coping strategies such as positive reinforcement and distraction techniques, along with the many available resources for parents dealing with toddlers’ separation anxiety, they can make sure their child gets the support they need to overcome this difficult period.
Are you wondering how long does separation anxiety last in 2 year olds? We can help! Separation anxiety can be difficult to manage but with the right resources and support, it doesn’t have to last.
Puppy Dogs & Ice Cream is dedicated to providing parents with the information they need in order to properly care for their children through this challenging stage. We invite all those affected by separation anxiety in 3 to 6-year-olds to join us as we work together towards finding solutions that will benefit everyone involved.