By Dr. Debra Rezendes, HMT Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy
School is back in session, the season in which separation anxiety may rear itself. The good news is that separation anxiety is often normal, short lived, and can be an indication of the healthy and loving relationship with your young child.
For older children, separation anxiety could be a bid for more emotional connection or trouble adjusting to a new environment. While we might be tempted to talk our child out of their anxieties using logic and reason, sticker charts, or telling him or her to “calm down,” this rarely works.
Instead, try addressing the anxiety with play. Try this. Play out the separation at home switching roles. Let your child be the one going to work while you play the child. This allows your child to experience soothing the anxiety emotions in a playful way, while also allowing them to feel control in the situation.
As an added bonus, it gives the child the message that it’s okay to have big emotions and explore them with you, strengthening your emotional bond.
Debra has over ten years of community and clinical work with individuals, children, parents, and families and has been published in the Journal of Happiness Studies and Autism Research and Treatment. She received her doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Eastern University and has gained specialized, intensive training in emotionally focused therapy (EFT) and Theraplay. She also has skills in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), strengths-based therapies, self-compassion training, attachment-based therapies, play therapy, and solution-focused therapy.
Dr. Debra Rezendes is a Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy and is working towards licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist in Virginia. She works under the supervision of Marianne S. Coad, MAMFC, LMFT, LPC-S. In the event that clients have any questions or concerns about Debra’s work, her supervisor can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, (703) 657-9721, or 10379-B Democracy Lane, Fairfax, VA 22030.