Separation Anxiety and Transitions

Published on 23rd September, 2021

Separation Anxiety and Transitions

Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety is the fear of being apart from parents/caregivers. It is common in children aged between six months and 3 years. This worry is considered a typical part of development for children in this age group as they recognize the people around them and form schemas about the world around them.

However, it becomes a concern if It exists for a prolonged period of time in older children and interferes with their daily functioning.

What does Separation Anxiety look like?

  • Refusal to leave caregiver or clinging to them when it is time to separate
  • Tearful goodbyes
  • Withdrawal or not participating in activities
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Food refusal
  • Recurring sickness
  • Regression or inappropriate behaviour


Transitions are difficult, especially when it is to a new environment or going back to school after an extended period of time. In both scenarios, it indicates uncertainty, and any individual may experience anxiety due to lack of knowledge or not knowing what is going to happen. This can occur to individuals in any age range (i.e. preschool age to adulthood).

Covid-19 and lockdown measures related to it may have transitions more troublesome. The increase in restrictions and new measures may have changed previously established routines. Though younger children may not understand the situation or the gravity of it, they are aware of changes around them. This awareness may induce anxiety even if they are unable to verbalize or express it. Behaviour changes or changes in mood may be indicative of this anxiety. These feelings may increase when they are faced with transitions or separations