When babies are less than 7 months of age they are willing to share their smiles with everyone and are happy to be comforted by almost any caring and loving individual. After 7 months however, infants are more aware of their dependence on their primary caregivers and begin forming very strong relationships with them.
A once care-free child can all of a sudden become very attached and increasingly more upset at the notion of being left at daycare or with the babysitter. This is an important developmental stage where babies suddenly become wary of strangers and both concerned and anxious when familiar people leave the room or house.
Until a child reaches the age 3 or 4 years, Separation Anxiety disorder in children is considered routine and a healthy part of development. It becomes a diagnosable disorder when the anxiety and fear become excessive, or beyond what is expected for the child’s age.
Children with Separation Anxiety often have unrealistic fears of being separated from the important people in their lives and are persistently worried that something terrible will happen to them. They can become clingy, tearful and may refuse to go to school or even leave the house. In some cases they are even afraid of sleeping in their own room separate from their parents.