Factors that can lead to separation anxiety in children are:
- Separation anxiety after loss of a family member
- Timid or shy nature [insecurity]
- Family break-up, relationship break-up
- Big life changes like moving house or school
- Medical conditions like PANS [Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome] and Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
Separation Anxiety Leading to School Phobia.
Robert was lucky enough to be accepted to board at a school in the UK where he could be a chorister but developed separation anxiety.
He came to me to talk about his miserable homesickness, which was causing school phobia & separation anxiety although he really wanted to be at school. At the end of our consultation, I asked him about his voice. although he was a chorister [choir boy] his voice was deep and strangled. Surely it wasn’t normally like that? He & his mum suddenly realised that his voice changed just before returning to school. Combining this marked change [constriction/lump in throat] with the grief he felt about leaving his mum & about his grandfather’s death some years before, I gave him a single dose of Ignatia 10M there and then in my home office (and spares to take home).
Robert returned to school without feeling tearful and managed really well. He’s had 1 repeat of his remedy after a relapse but otherwise is fine. A year on from our consultation, he has been able to continue with the singing he loves.
Read: Highlights From Practice.
Ignatia is a good remedy for ‘silent’ grief, when the person is unable to cry, though you may see more crying and separation anxiety in Ignatia children than adults.
Anorexia & Anxiety after Friendship break-up
Substantial anxiety can occur for children and teens due to friendship issues. You may also see loss of appetite & depression after friendship break-ups and Ignatia is a good anxiety & anorexia remedy in those cases, often producing healthy grieving tears and restoring the ability to eat.
Charlotte had fallen out with her best friend over a misunderstanding & her cat had recently died. She’d become increasingly unable to leave home and her father’s side to go to school. She then found she couldn’t eat and was having desires to self-harm. Her dad brought her to me and I quickly gathered that she was in a state of profound, silent grief.
I gave her Ignatia 10M in my office and her dad reported that she opened up on the drive home, telling him of her hurt and weeping. She went back into school in time for the exams and was soon able to eat. She was gradually able to get over the loss of her friend, and although the friendship was lost they were able to become amicable.
Separation anxiety with fear of death and school phobia
I often see children in my practice needing the homeopathic remedy Arsenicum album to resolve their separation anxiety. In common they have fear to be alone & fear of change and/or disease/germs – also underlying fear of death, which they are often not conscious of until after they have had the remedy.
Sophie was age 6 when I first saw her, suffering from germ phobia and severe school anxiety [along with autistic traits]. Twice that year she was affected by mental breakdowns during which she said, “I don’t know how I’m still alive when I feel like this.”
Sophie was unable to attend school and had extreme anxiety & insomnia, with very dark days.
When I took Sophie’s case I was reminded of two recent cases of 6-year-old girls [both called Alice] with very similar symptoms. The remedy they had was Arsenicum and they had made rapid recoveries.
When I followed up with Sophie, the same had happened. She was happy in school, engaging in imaginative play for the first time and feeling safe at bedtime.
A tale of two Alices.
Alice B had separation anxiety, germ-phobia and an autism diagnosis. She was 6 when I started working with her 4 years ago. After Arsenicum alb she was able to go to school:
Within a day a big difference! More tactile, loving, expressive, explaining her feelings more clearly, more aware of them. Things we didn’t realise were a part of what was wrong just came together. She could stick with frustrating, challenging tasks she couldn’t cope with before. Meltdowns didn’t come. Birthday parties, etc, previously a big challenge, could suddenly be coped with. Now she could cope with germs. That fear of germs has gone and so many other fears have gone. She can handle everything and her understanding of it is “I’m just not afraid of it any more”.Alice’s Mum, Kate.
I’ve recently worked with her for a urinary tract infection and Kate reports that she is so unconcerned about Coronavirus! It is amazing. By the way, she needed arsenicum again. 🙂
6 year old Alice C was extremely on edge & angry! She couldn’t be left to play & her anxiety induced meltdowns over the slightest thing were causing depression and anxiety for her mum.
After arsenicum alb:
As the month has gone on she is calmer, less anxious, less angry. She’s getting lost more in playing without anxiety. I’m much less anxious coz I haven’t got to tread on egg shells. It was such hard work! The children have been playing together beautifully this week. Her brother is having to change what he’s doing to wind her up and Alice isn’t taking the bait! Alice began to worry when it was time for gran to leave and then pulled it back and was able to go upstairs for 5 mins with gran and then let her go.Alice’s mum Josie.
Separation Anxiety and Autism commonly coincide.
I also saw Sophie’s sister for similar problems about a year ago as she was coming to the age where she’d be starting school, and her anxiety was becoming intense. It is not uncommon for anxiety, and separation anxiety in particular to run in families. It is still readily resolved with homeopathy.
“Ruby is presenting increasingly with autistic traits, sensory issues, anxiety, & need for routine. Her separation anxiety is beginning to resurface. She is school refusing frequently. She is complaining of tummy aches a lot and spends a lot of time crying about them. She often clutches her tummy with it. I can’t work out if there’s something more than anxiety causing them. Her lymph nodes are swollen. Her behaviour is causing extreme stress to all! Angry and upset all the time. This week the separation anxiety is much worse.”Mum of Sophie & Ruby
I suggested Baryta carb. This is a remedy for timid children who suffer separation anxiety extremely. They usually have enlarged tonsils and are younger than their years. They are easily spotted as the child that hides behind mum’s skirt and can’t talk to others, often including other children. They struggle strongly with making choices & are very insecure.
After baryta-carb she was able to start school:
Baryta-carb resolved the tummy pains too! It’s a remedy I prescribe often for children with autistic traits & development delay.
I’ve needed to recommend the remedy Gallic acid in cases where children have experienced the break up of their parents, even in cases where the break up has been amicable and everything possible has been done to reassure the child.
These children have been too afraid to let a parent leave the room or use the toilet alone. They are often very poorly behaved, aggressive and angry with terrible levels of fear about the dark and being left.
Breaking up from unhealthy relationships
Sometimes separation anxiety can keep teens in toxic relationships. Heidi had a homeopathic remedy Magnesium carb, which is can be prescribed to children who feel unloved despite being well cared for & have a fear of abandonment. [Tonsil stones are another indication for this remedy, and Heidi has those]. In Heidi’s case, this was keeping her inside a romantic relationship that was causing her harm. Despite wanting to leave, her fear of separation and abandonment was too strong to allow her to make the break. Mag carb enabled her to gain the confidence to leave.
PANS: Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome
Jeremiah has autism and a PANS diagnosis. PANS is a newly recognised autoimmune condition where an environmental trigger [in this case parasites/worms] can cause the child’s body to produce antibodies that also attack brain cells, causing brain inflammation. This leads to characteristic, fast-onset flares of extreme anxiety & OCD [obsessional, compulsive disorder] along with a host of other symptoms. Separation anxiety is a frequent, intense feature of this disorder.
Jeremiah’s mum came to me in a state of desperation. Jeremiah’s separation anxiety was so intense, his baby brother wasn’t allowed to approach mum and she wasn’t allowed to leave him to tend to the baby. All hell would break loose. He began screaming as soon as he woke and continue throughout the day. He couldn’t be bathed and routine care was almost impossible. Mum was in a state of traumatic stress that was causing severe depression.
Jeremiah’s remedies included a homeopathic parasite cleanse remedy, Cina and a remedy for gut & skin healing [Morgan Gaertner].
Instead of tears, when mum opened the next zoom call she had a wonderful grin on her face:
“My son is 90% calmer. His anxiety has nearly diminished and his OCD seems to be getting better each day. He began school 2 weeks ago and every day he has received a GREAT report. His teachers are thrilled with his progress and continue to let us know he is trying more and more to talk each day. He is sleeping much better at night. For 3 years he’s been unable to tolerate a bath or shower and they caused him to scream as if tortured and his whole body would tremble. Now he happily enjoys a bath nightly. He is an all round happy boy now. He’ll play happily and I can look after his brother and even go upstairs. This has bought so much peace to our home.”Vanessa, mum of Jeremiah.
Homeopathy has a lot of remedies to offer for children of all ages with separation anxiety leading to school phobia, hyper-dependency, mood problems & unhealthy relationships toward themselves and others.
Relief can be pretty fast and improvements can last longterm, often without a need to repeat the remedy. There are no side-effects with homeopathy as it stimulates the child’s immune system to do the healing work, rather than working by suppressing the symptoms.
If your child is suffering from separation anxiety and this is having an impact on their development, their life and the life of family members, come for a homeopathic consultation. You’ll find booking links at the top of my page.