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From the moment a child is born, he is the centre of everyone’s attention. However, as he grows, things slowly change. He spends more time discovering things on his own. However, the biggest change occurs when he starts going to a play school. The environment is new, and can be scary. How do you think he feels?
It may come as no surprise that he reacts as any other child would. He starts crying, throwing tantrums, and clings to you. If you view the situation from his perspective, it can be quite intimidating. Every child goes through separation anxiety. Factors such as joining school, moving homes or dealing with death can aggravate these issues. However, with understanding, patience, and effective coping strategies, you can help your child overcome his separation woes, so that they do not interfere with his brain development and cognitive growth.
Here are 5 ways in which separation anxiety can hinder mental development:
Children love to express themselves verbally. However, when they experience separation, they start fretting in the absence of their caregiver, and their self-expression gets suppressed due to fear. During this time, it isn’t unnatural for a child to slide into silence. If this is not checked, it can intensify, and the child may start stuttering. Parents and teachers need to pay attention when this happens, as it can also hamper social growth.
2. Declining academic performance
A child's brain is twice as active as an adult's, especially during his early years. The brain is responsible for memory, language, speech, emotional responses, creativity, and much more. Separation woes create feelings of loss and insecurity. These emotions can adversely affect brain development, slowing down the learning process.
3. Physical illness
When children undergo separation anxiety, the fear of being left alone overpowers every other existing emotion they have. In severe cases, they not only feel mentally depressed, but also experience physical illness. Vomiting and headaches are common complaints they face.
4. Refusal to be separated
Little children are highly perceptive. When your child sees you dressing up differently, sneaking out of the room, or doing something that is not part of your daily routine, he becomes anxious. The tears, screams and o temper tantrums start when children are left alone, or transplanted to an absolutely new setting (like a school or crèche) with nothing to remind them of home. They cling to their parent, or primary caregiver, and vehemently express their refusal to be separated.
5. Social and emotional development
Research has shown that children who grow up feeling secure in their early relationships experience normal emotional development, compared to children who are subjected to disruptive separation during the early years of their life. Kids with unstable primary relationships tend to overreact, have less control of their impulses, feel insecure, and face problems while handling stressful situations. Separation woes can definitely hinder your child’s social and emotional development.
Separation woes are a common concern, especially during the first 3-5 years of your child’s life. Parents and teachers need to be very careful about how they deal with this, because during these years their brain grows and develops rapidly. It is critical that kids receive a steady source of energy and essential nutrients to support their developing brain and overall performance. Lots of physical activity, adequate rest, and healthy baby food/formulas can help reduce the impact of separation anxiety.