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Separation Anxiety Disorder


Separation anxiety disorder is a condition that causes your child to feel anxious when separated from something familiar. Separation anxiety is normal for babies and begins around 6 months of age. It usually lasts until about age 30 months and may become worse over time. Your child may have separation anxiety disorder if it continues after he is 30 months old. It can also appear suddenly, often around 7 to 9 years of age.


Call 911 if:

  • Your child feels like hurting himself or others.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child has a seizure.
  • Your child has trouble breathing, chest pains, or a fast heartbeat.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child's eating or sleeping habits change.
  • Your child's separation anxiety disorder prevents him from doing his daily activities.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.


  • Medicines may be used to help your child feel less nervous, anxious, or depressed. Medicines may also be used to treat other behavior problems.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Your child's healthcare provider will watch how your child responds to medicine. Tell him about unwanted side effects or problems your child may be having with his medicine. The type and amount of medicines your child takes may need to be changed. Your child's healthcare provider will also talk about how long your child may need therapy or medicine. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

How to help your child:

  • Be a positive role model. Learn to control your own anxiety. Your child learns from watching your behavior. Be careful that your actions do not support or strengthen your child's separation anxiety behavior. These actions include checking on your child often and avoiding situations that cause you anxiety.
  • Learn more about separation anxiety disorder. The more you know about your child's anxiety, the better you can help him. Work with your child's teachers to help your child in school.
  • Set rules that do not change. Clear and simple rules can help change how your child thinks and acts. Set limits and routines that are always followed. Praise and reward your child when he is able to control his anxiety.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.