Assoc. Dr. Neslim Güven Değer Doksat stated that when a child stays in a separate room from her mother until the age of three and a half, she needs to go to the room where her mother is at certain intervals and check whether she is there, and expressed that she may react to being separated from her mother for a long time. Dr. Doksat says, “From the age of three to three and a half, the child completes the ‘separation-individuation phase’ and becomes an autonomous-autonomous individual. For this reason, a child who has completed his/her developmental stages in a healthy way can now sleep comfortably in his/her own room from this age on. She can tolerate being separated from her mother for short periods of time. Therefore, after the age of three, she starts kindergarten comfortably and physically being separated from her mother during the daytime does not pose a problem for her.”
‘TIME TURNS INTO A SCHOOL PHOBIA’
Doksat stated that the children who could not complete the “separation-individuation phase” cried heavily in the kindergarten, did not want to stay there and wanted their mothers with them. In this case, since the child does not want to stay at school, the kindergarten administration usually asks the family to pick the child up from school. Especially after four weeks have passed, it is an appropriate behavior to remove the child, who is still not used to it, from school, but some of the families attribute the reason why the child does not want to stay in school because they do not know that this situation requires professional support, and they hope that the situation will improve when they grow up. In this case, untreated ‘separation anxiety disorder’ turns into ‘school phobia’, which is much more difficult to treat in the following years. Therefore, it is very important to treat separation anxiety disorder at an early age.
“WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF SEPARATION ANXIETY DISORDER?”
Assoc. Dr. Neslim Güven Değer Doksat listed the causes of separation anxiety disorder in children as follows:
“The fact that the mother herself has a pessimistic and anxious character. The mother’s overprotective-protective behavior towards her child and displaying anxiety-transfer behaviors towards her, due to her own ‘anxiety disorder’ or ‘obsessive compulsive disorder’ Sibling jealousy caused by the older child being started in kindergarten at the time of sibling birth. Existence of conflict marriage between parents, exposure to physical or emotional violence. Being in the process of divorce or newly divorced. Experiencing a serious illness or loss in a parent or extended family. Being exposed to relocation or immigration.”
HOW TO AVOID SEPARATION ANXIETY?
Emphasizing that parents have important responsibilities in the face of this risk, Doksat made critical recommendations in order to reduce the development of separation anxiety and negative thoughts in children. Doksat said, “It is very important that parents do not apply an overly protective and caring parental attitude towards their children, and that they do not exhibit anxious and apprehensive behavior patterns towards their children. After the first year, the child’s bedroom should be separated and it should be supported to become an autonomous and autonomous individual. It should not be forgotten that children who insist on sleeping in the same bed with their mothers, primarily aim to eliminate the negative expectations of the mother who feels anxious and/or lonely. At this point, it is of great importance that parents who cannot exhibit appropriate behavior receive psychiatric support and treat their own anxiety disorders.
Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Assoc. Dr. Neslim Güven Değer Doksat continued his words as follows:
“From the age of one and a half to two years, the child’s being a separate individual must be absolutely supported. It is necessary to pave the way for his autonomy in matters such as wearing the clothes he wants, expressing himself, and realizing his self-care skills. In case of sibling birth, rivalry should not be triggered and jealousy should be prevented. In situations such as conflict marriage and contentious divorce, it is very important for parents to receive professional mental health support. Professional mental health support should also be sought in case of serious illness, loss in the family, or in case of moving or migration events that may adversely affect the emotional adaptation of the child.
Doksat added that with the recommendations he shared, it is possible to prevent the development of separation anxiety disorder in children and to prevent the emergence of a serious illness such as school phobia in the medium and long term.