Global Council for Tolerance and Peace

Separation anxiety among mothers!

Dr. Antoine Chartouni

Dr. Antoine Chartouni

In the early months of the childhood, the child is characterized by his anxiety of strangers and separation from his mother, as well as the fear of being in strange places.

Modern psychological studies have confirmed that these fears are natural and soon fade away at the end of the third year of his life. But sometimes, the anxiety of separation does not easily disappear, but appears not only in the child but also in the mother.

Separation anxiety disorder…

Everyone is afraid of separation. When this happens, the person becomes anxious and can panic, fear and feel empty because of temporary or permanent “absence”. This type of anxiety is usually seen in children between one and three and a half years. The child exhibits an attached behavior, and cannot be separated from his parents, especially from his mother and stays “glued” to her at all times.

As with the child, this type of anxiety is present with the mother, especially with mothers with a worried and cautious personality. The anxiety disorder begins with the separation of the mother from the child from the pre-primary school age, especially when the children enter kindergarten or the first year of school, and this concern continues to the third or fourth grade of primary school, and may remain until the end of primary school.

At this stage, we find that women who suffer from separation anxiety from their children complain of psychological symptoms including crying, anxiety, fear, nervousness and of course many physiological symptoms including: dizziness, fainting, rapid heartbeat, headache, nausea, stomach ache…

Therefore, it should be noted that the concern of separation of the mother from her children, varies from mother to mother. We see that some feel in the first days of separation some anxiety and fear which disappear after a week. Some women, however, suffer from separation anxiety to the point of preventing their children from going to school, or they even take them to school and wait for them to finish school, fearing that their child will be exposed to any misdeeds or problems. And of course all these thoughts are just fantasies that increase the mother’s anxiety.

The anxiety of separation of the mother from her children… is real!

There are many reasons and factors that help show separation anxiety in mothers and they can be divided into several sections:

1 – Psychological and social factors, which play a prominent role in the emergence of anxiety in the mother, especially those who experienced difficult separation experiences during their lives. We see that a mother who has suffered from her parents’ divorce does not readily accept her separation from her son. It can also be added that a mother who has experienced a close death in her family (during her childhood or adolescence) also finds it difficult to live with her separation from her child when he joins school.

2 – Instability of the relationship in the house or before marriage. And of course excessive protection from parents to their children, results that these children in the future also have too much concern and fear for their own children.

3 – Genetic factors, which play a role in the separation anxiety. It was noted that there is a relation between depression and separation anxiety in mothers (as well as hormonal factors).

How should this situation be handled?

There are several exercises that can be done to alleviate separation anxiety:

First, the practice of separation: Leaving the child alone for some time before going to school. In this way, the mother gets used to having her own life and not just a life related to her child.

Second, exercising and doing some activities that reduce the sense of fear and nervousness due to separation.

Third, seeking help from a babysitter at home to gradually separate from the child. And making sure that everything in the school is safe and not harming through a simple visit to the classroom, and making sure the objects used by the child cannot hurt him in any way.

Finally, speeding up the “goodbye” process, which means not staying more than a minute after arriving to school, and leaving the child quickly.

As well as talking about the problem with the husband or with a psychologist. And of course if the mother cannot help herself, there are many psychological treatments and psychological guidance, which can help her overcome the excessive concern and fear for her child, notably: traditional therapy or analytic treatment, reinforcing the “ME” and talking about the past psychological problems faced by the mother during her childhood. Behavioral therapy also helps alleviate anxiety through psychological exercises, and of course family therapy that encourages husband and wife to talk about their problem.

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