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Anxiety and Stress Disorders (Children)

Separating from Grandma

02/08/2008

Question:

My daughter is 2 1/2 years old. For the first two years of her life, her grandmother was her caregiver during the day while my husband and I both work. She would watch my daughter for 8 hours, 5 days a week. This past year, my daughter has been attending a daycare/pre-school 3 days a week and is only with the grandmother the other 2 days. My daughter has cried everyday when I pick her up from the grandmother`s because she doesn`t want to leave. This started when she was about 6 months old. She never cries when I drop her off in the morning at the grandmother`s. However, she does cry when I drop her off at daycare for a few minutes each morning. When I pick her up from daycare, she is as happy as can be, often wanting to show me things she has done throughout the day. When I pick her up the other 2 days from her grandmother`s, she will hit, kick, and scream that she doesn`t want to leave. She will often tell me to go back to work and will continue to cry for her grandmother for the 15 minute drive home. This pattern happens every time I pick her up from there. Do children experience separation anxiety from family members or should I be concerned that something else is going on?

Answer:

Yes, children can form tremendous attachments to caregivers and being absent from them can give rise temporarily to anxious feelings. These issues overtime and with increasing maturity tend to wane and separation with each event becomes easier and easier.

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Response by:

Floyd R Sallee, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati