Health Minute: Separation Anxiety

By: Judy Fortin, CNN
By: Judy Fortin, CNN

The start of a new school year can be filled with anxiety for some young children.

But there are some ways to cope with the transition.

It's the first day of Kindergarten for 5-year-old Sebastian Gar and his mother admits, she's a wreck.

"I was up about half of the night worried about Sebastian and what our transition would be like today. We've had some rough transitions in previous years," said mother Heidi Grau.

Experts say separation anxiety is fairly common among young children and they don't always know what causes it.

"When a child is anxious they can look really scared and sometimes act quite irrationally," explained Clinical Psychologist Mark Crawford.

That's what happened to Sebastian during his pre-school years.

"When he leaves me, he holds onto my leg and he won't let go, and the teachers oftentimes have to kind of tackle him," his father Joerg Grau admitted.

Meeting the new teacher ahead of time can help ease the transition as can positive words from parents.

"Be clear and completely confident even if you have to fake it and sort of go about it as though it's no big deal," Crawford said.

For the Grau's, that was easier said than done.

"He started giving me a big hug and he didn't want to let go, but he did great. That was much better than anticipated," Joerg said.

For more ways to prevent and treat separation anxiety, click here.


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