ARIZONA NEWS

Here’s how to deal with separation anxiety for students, parents

Jul 29, 2019, 4:05 AM | Updated: Jul 30, 2019, 2:48 pm
Dr. Melissa Estavillo (KTAR News Photo/Ali Vetnar)...
Dr. Melissa Estavillo (KTAR News Photo/Ali Vetnar)
(KTAR News Photo/Ali Vetnar)

PHOENIX — Many kids excel when they are connected to their parents; they feel like that is their home base.

Biltmore Psychology and Counseling’s Dr. Melissa Estavillo says separation anxiety happens a lot with children in really loving and supportive families because they feel so comfortable there, making it very uncomfortable to step out of it when they are headed back to school.

Estavillo said separation anxiety can manifest itself in several ways.

“We will see clinging behaviors when kids want to be really close if they’re super young. They might literally cling to their mother or father’s side,” she said.

“It could be places where they are acting out a little bit more. They may be a little more aggressive or frustrated because when we are generally feeling anxious, we think about the trembling behaviors but a lot of the time it comes out as irritability.”

How can parents prepare their children for school and the separation it will bring?

Estavillo recommends creating a mental representation of the family system.

“That can play out when you’re able to spend that concerted time with a child and say, ‘Hey I’m here with you!’ Maybe put a kiss in their hand, if they’re a little kid,” she said.

She also recommends giving children verbal reminders and confirmation, like, “When you are scared or nervous, I’m there with you!”

“I’m going to ask you about your day when you get home. I am there with you in spirit, so they don’t feel as far away from their home system.”

But separation anxiety does not just impact children. Parents are also prone to feeling anxious when it comes to time apart from their kids.

“It can be super hard, especially for new parents when it’s their first time leaving their child. Parents can worry about school safety, and also watching your kids struggle is hard,” Estavillo said.

In the parent version of that mental representation of the family system, Estavillo advises parents to maybe take a selfie with their child before school. Then they can look at it throughout the day and see their child smiling.

Estavillo believes there is a general thought that if parents coddle a child, give extra hugs or keep them physically close, then parents might make the anxiety worse. But she says that is the opposite of the truth.

“If a child is clinging, the best thing to do is give them a big hug. And then establish the boundary saying afterwards, ‘OK, I’m leaving now.’”

She added, “But don’t think that love will make things worse; it actually makes things better. That connection is so important for them to feel less anxious.”

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Pexels Photo)...
KTAR.com

1 dead after argument leads to gunfire in downtown Phoenix

A man is dead after an argument escalated into gunfire in downtown Phoenix on Wednesday evening, authorities said.
16 hours ago
(Facebook Photos/State Farm Stadium, WM Phoenix Open)...
KTAR.com

Sheriff Penzone says public’s vigilance is safety tool in security prep for Super Bowl

With high-profile sporting events on the horizon for metro Phoenix, Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said he's looking to the public to act as extra eyes and ears for law enforcement.
16 hours ago
(Expansive Photo)...
KTAR.com

Flexible workspace company Expansive opens 20,000-square-foot downtown Mesa location

Chicago-based Flexible workspace company Expansive has taken over a 20,000-square-foot location in downtown Mesa.
16 hours ago
(Facebook File Photo/Surprise Police Department)...
KTAR.com

2 teenagers killed in Surprise when vehicle crashes into tree

Two teenagers are dead and two others are in the hospital after their vehicle crashed into a tree in Surprise on Wednesday.
16 hours ago
(Facebook File Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...
KTAR.com

Child dies after getting hit by car while walking to school in Phoenix

A child died Thursday morning after getting hit by a car while he was walking to school with his father, authorities said.
16 hours ago
Supporters hold up signs reading "Bring Brittney Home" during a rally to support the release of det...
KTAR.com

Arizona politicians react to news of Phoenix WNBA star Brittney Griner’s release

News of Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner’s release from a Russian prison was welcomed by political leaders in Arizona.
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Here’s how to deal with separation anxiety for students, parents