Fear of Being Away From Home
Most of us are familiar with separation anxiety as it relates to infants and toddlers, but what do you do if your middle-school kid or teenager still has a fear of being away from home or away from you?
Our first reaction is often to try and talk our kids out of their fears. Explaining to them why there’s no need to be concerned or that they need to grow up and just get over it, though, usually do very little to reassure them that they have nothing to be concerned about. Assuming that there is no history of trauma when separated from parents, this may be more of an irrational fear than a rational one, and trying to rationalize an irrational fear doesn’t usually produce much success.
A more effective strategy is to really listen to what’s bothering your child, then work together to come up with some strategies to cope with and eventually overcome these fears. Take small steps, provide reassurance along the way, and create a backup plan in case things get too stressful. Let your child know that you don’t mind coming to pick her up in the wee hours of the morning if needed, or driving two hours to bring him home from camp if he’s too unhappy. Build on small successes, don’t try to minimize or talk your kids out of their fears, and plan ahead — these actions will all help your kids to overcome their fears of being away from home.