Children with separation anxiety panic and cry when a parent leaves them, even if only to go into an adjacent room. Separation anxiety is normal for infants at about 8 months of age, is most intense between 10 and 18 months of age, and usually resolves by 2 years of age. The intensity and duration of a child’s separation anxiety vary and depend partly on the child-parent relationship. Usually, separation anxiety in a child with a strong and healthy attachment to a parent resolves sooner than in a child whose connection is less strong.
Do all babies experience separation anxiety?
Yes, to a degree. At certain stages, most babies or toddlers will show true anxiety and be upset at the prospect â€” or reality â€” of being separated from a parent. If you think about separation anxiety in evolutionary terms, it makes sense: A defenseless baby would naturally get upset at being separated from the person who protects and cares for him.
In many ways, attitudes about babies and separations are cultural. Western countries tend to stress autonomy from a very early age. But in many other cultures, infants are rarely separated from their mother in the first year of life.
Regardless of the origins of this normal developmental stage, it’s frustrating for babies and parents. The good news is that separation anxiety will pass and there are ways to make it more manageable. And in the meantime, enjoy the sweetness of knowing that to your child, you’re number one.