What is separation anxiety in toddlers? When does it end? 

Separation anxiety doesn’t affect every toddler, but when it does happen, it’s difficult for everyone involved. There may be tears, sobs, maybe even screams – from both the toddler and their parent! If you don’t understand why Baby has a hard time seeing you go, imagine saying goodbye to someone close to you who you weren’t sure you’d ever see again. If they are dealing with separation anxiety, that’s pretty much how Baby feels when they get the sense that you’re about to leave.

What causes separation anxiety?

Separation anxiety in Baby can make you wonder what on earth happened to the child who, only days ago, was content getting passed back and forth like a hot potato. But separation anxiety is a healthy sign that Baby’s brain is developing. Not only has Baby figured out that you’re a different entity than the other adults in their life, but they can also think of you when you’re out of sight.

These skills are a blessing (Baby remembers you, yay!) and a curse (cue the waterworks when you leave the room).

When does it start to go away?

Separation anxiety usually begins to fade when toddlers start being able to express themselves verbally. It varies from child to child, but generally around the age of 3 most toddlers are fairly comfortable being away from their parents. It will take Baby time to develop more trust in the fact that you’ll come back, and to feel more self-sufficient. Once they have these, they will be much better suited to move on to bigger things, like solo playdates and preschool. Those things may still be pretty far away though, so for now, just take baby steps to help them adjust to this newfound knowledge.

  • “How to Ease Your Child’s Separation Anxiety.” Healthy Children. American Academy of Pediatrics, November 21 2015. Web.

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