Posts

Separation Anxiety and Sleepovers

Distress around separating from a primary caregiver can be very common among children and a normal part of development. Children from 1-year-old to about 4-years-old are in the process ofBlog Separation Anxiety Main-Portrait gaining confidence to be independent. Because of this natural part of development, symptoms such as worry, tantrums and clinginess when separating can be common.

If as your child gets older the fear of leaving a parent or caregiver does not decrease that could be a sign that your child is experiencing separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can be defined as intense nervousness around leaving a primary caregiver. Obvious signs of separation anxiety vary from children verbally expressing resistance to go somewhere or displaying unhappiness through crying, fighting or physically holding on to a parent/caregiver. The not-so-obvious ways children can display anxiety around separation can look like silence in a child who is usually talkative, shutting down or physical symptoms like being sick.

There are a number of factors that can attribute to nervousness and hesitation around separating from parents or caregivers. Lack of familiarity in a new environment, break in routine, fear that something will happen when they are away from their family or an over-bearing and clingy parent. If a child feels that their parent does not want them to leave then they will be more likely to fear leaving as well.

As children enter middle school and high school, sleepovers become a more common occurrence among friends. This can be a fun activity for some children or a source of anxiety for others. A sleepover to a nervous child can mean sleeping in an unfamiliar environment, not being able to say goodnight to a familiar person and losing structure/routine often found around bedtime.

Recommendations for parents to help ease their children’s separation anxiety and embrace the pastime of a sleepover are:

  1. Acknowledge and identify the fears that your child’s experiencing. Figure out what are they most nervous about and what are their expectations for the sleepover?
  2. Support your child. Let them know you are proud of them for becoming more independent
  3. Plan a fun activity to do together the day following a sleepover. Planning an activity together reassures your child that though you are encouraging them to do something on their own you are still there to spend time with them
  4. Figure out if there is a parent or caregiver that your child separates more easily from, then try to have that person drop off your child

Children with a healthy attachment to their parent or caregiver are most likely to feel confident when leaving. As a parent, make sure you are promoting your child’s independence while also making sure to be available for your child when they need you.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140.

Social Work

Carole Mazius

Carole Mazius

Carole Mazius has her Master's of Social Work from Stony Brook University in New York. She specializes in working with children who struggle with behavioral disorders, learning disabilities and mental illness and their families. Carole's broad experience ranges from working abroad in Tel Aviv, Israel to Brooklyn, NY. In Israel Carole spent spent six months tutoring children in English, meeting the students' families and experiencing another culture first hand. Carole spent time in Brooklyn working at an alternative learning center with at risk youth, focusing on improving behavior and conflict resolution. Carole's strong interest in working with children stemmed from volunteer experience mentoring students combined with her strong interest in psychological development and the impact of environment on behavior.

More Posts - Website

Separation Anxiety and School

It’s normal for children to sometimes feel worried or upset when separating from their main attachment figures. Although it can be difficult for parents and the child, it’s a normal stage of blog-separation-anxiety-main-landscapedevelopment.

Kids will often cry, whine, refuse to part or be overly clingy when it’s time to separate. Usually, these behaviors decrease with age, but sometimes, some kid’s reactions are extreme, and they interfere with their functioning in different areas of their lives. These kids may be suffering from Separation Anxiety Disorder. Kids who suffer from Separation Anxiety Disorder have a persistent fear of possible harm occurring to close attachment figures or excessive fear that they will leave and not return.

Some common behaviors related to separation anxiety include:

  • School refusal
  • Frequent somatic complaints (headaches, stomach aches, nausea)
  • Recurrent nightmares
  • Crying or having temper tantrums
  • Avoiding going to new places
  • Refusal to be alone

A common place where these behaviors occur is at school. For some kids, they might refuse to go to school, or they might have a hard time when being dropped off. No matter what type of anxiety the child is dealing with, it’s important to educate and teach your child about anxiety.

If your child is having anxiety about separating from you, here are some recommendations to consider:

  • Do not allow your child to stay home from school. This only worsens the symptoms over time and doesn’t allow them the opportunity to face their fear.
  • Do not ignore or deny the child’s worries. Teach your child about anxiety and its impacts.
  • Keep calm during separations. If your child sees you staying calm and cool, they are more likely to do so as well. When it’s time to say goodbye, make sure not to sneak out. This will only make the child more afraid.
  • Once your child makes it to school, identify a safe place for them if they are having a hard time. You can work with teachers or school counselors in identifying what would be appropriate.
  • Allow your child to pack a comfort item from school (favorite blanket or animal or a picture) that they can use when they feel homesick.
  • Create a goodbye ritual- maybe a special handshake or goodbye which can help the child feel more secure during the transition.
  • Praise your child’s efforts. Reward brave behaviors, however small they are!

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

Social Work

Erilda Borici

Erilda Borici

Erilda Borici is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) with experience working with children, adolescents and their families. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee in Psychology and her Master of Arts degree from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology with a specialization in Children and Adolescents. Erilda has had the opportunity to practice in a variety of mental health settings. These experiences include facilitating an Adolescent Intensive Outpatient program at Chicago Lakeshore Hospital working with adolescents struggling with depression, anxiety, mood disorders and self-harm. In addition she has experience providing individual therapy, group therapy and family therapy to children, adolescents and families in outpatient settings. Erilda has a special interest in play therapy and working with adolescent girls struggling with self-esteem and identity issues.

More Posts - Website

impact of untreated mental illness

When Mental Illness Goes Untreated

Homelessness, incarceration, violence, suicide.  These terms bring dark and upsetting images to mind for most everyone.  You may be asking, what do these phenomena have in common?  The answer is that the chances of experiencing one or more of these adversities is increased when individuals with mental illness do not receive proper treatment.  The National Alliance on Mental Illness defines mental illness as “aThe Impact of Untreated Mental Illness condition that impacts a person’s thinking, feeling or mood may affect and his or her ability to relate to others and function on a daily basis. Each person will have different experiences, even people with the same diagnosis.”

With so much variability, it seems nearly impossible to provide a truly comprehensive answer to the question: What happens when mental illness goes untreated?  However, in recent years there has been a growing amount of research studies analyzing the impact of mental health on both individuals as well as society as a whole.  The impact that mental illness can have on individuals changes throughout the lifespan.  Young children with separation anxiety, for example, likely experience significant challenges related to the transition from spending their days at home with Mom to spending their days at school.  This can take a toll on both the upset child as well as her or her parents.  An older child with depression, however, may struggle to stay focused in class, have difficulties forming and maintaining friendships, and even fall behind academically.

Although we, as mental health professionals, still have a great deal more to learn about mental illness and treatment, one fact we know to be true is that earlier detection and treatment leads to improved outcomes.  When untreated, mental health conditions can worsen and the impact on daily life (work, relationships, physical health) can grow significantly.  Often people with mental illness develop methods of coping that can have negative consequences.  The sooner individuals can gain understanding and learn to manage their mental health effectively, the smaller the impact that the mental illness will have on their lives.  After all, borrowing another quote from the NAMI website, “without mental health, we cannot be fully healthy.”     

Anxiety Disorders

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Mike Meltzer

Mike Meltzer

Mike has been working with children and their families since graduating from Bradley University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in social work. After college, Mike spent a few years as a Head Start family service worker, and later enrolled in a dual degree program through Erickson Institute and Loyola University. Upon completing his masters' degrees in Child Development and Social Work, Mike worked as a school social worker in the Evanston public schools. In Evanston, he had the opportunity to work with both elementary and middle school students. This past August, Mike joined NSPT, and he is thrilled to be working in a clinical setting.

More Posts - Website

separation anxiety

Separation Anxiety and the Young Child

 

 

 

Children can encounter many different types of anxieties and fears as they go through early childhood. Separation anxiety is one of these types of fears.

As children enter into preschool and begin the transition into kindergarten, they may begin to have fears about growing up, being away from their parents and losing their parents. It can be very typical for children between the ages of 4 and 6 to start verbalizing and expressing these fears. This age is a time of increased independence and transitions which can lead to increased anxiety for many children. Here are some strategies to help your child deal with these concerns:

Strategies for Managing Separation Anxiety in the Young Child:

  • Empathize with your child and to let them know that you are his/her forever family.
  • Let your child know that they are not alone and that many children have these same concerns and fears.
  • Avoid giving too much reassurance to your child because this can lead to increased anxiety and dependence on you.
  • Use books as a resource. Books that focus on transitions and feelings can be very helpful at this age. The Invisible String by Patrice Karst, The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn and Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney are great books to use to help ease transitions and to reduce the fears of being separated from parents.

If you notice that your child exhibits worries and fears about growing up and losing his parents and these fears do not subside within several weeks, it is recommended that you seek advice from a mental health professional in order to identify if your child needs assistance from someone to reduce their fears.






Rebecca Kieffer

Rebecca Kieffer

Rebecca Kieffer, LCSW, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with more than 16 years experience working with children, adolescents and their families. She is bi-lingual in Spanish and received her Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Children and Families from the University of Illinois. Rebecca specializes in treating children and adolescents who have faced trauma, abuse, loss and multiple transitions. She has extensive experience in treating children and adolescents with developmental disabilities, behavioral challenges, depression, anxiety, ADHD, adjustment difficulties and attachment disorders within daycares, medical treatment facilities and community mental health centers. Rebecca utilizes a holistic and strength based approach to working with children and their families. She incorporates a variety of therapeutic techniques from Family Systems Therapy, Developmental Therapy, Attachment Therapy, and Love and Logic into her sessions in order to facilitate growth and healing. Rebecca believes in utilizing a collaborative approach with parents, caregivers, medical providers, and extended support systems to help children to heal and to cope more effectively with the challenges that they are confronting on a daily basis.

More Posts