anxiety in hospitalised children​

Dealing with stranger anxiety

What is separation anxiety?

Part of a baby's normal development is learning that separations from parents are not permanent. Young babies do not understand time, so they think a parent who walks out of the room is gone forever. Separation anxiety is usually at its peak between 10 and 18 months. It typically ends by the time a child is 3 years old. Children who are hospitalised would be expected to suffer from stranger anxiety.

What are the signs of separation anxiety?

Babies experiencing separation anxiety fear that a parent will leave and not return. The fear may be worsened in the presence of a stranger or a hospital ward. Typical responses of babies experiencing this normal phase of development may include the following:


  • Crying when you leave the room
  • Clinging or crying, especially in new situations

  • Awakening and crying at night after previously sleeping through the night

  • Refusal to go to sleep without parent nearby

How can you help your child with separation anxiety?

Children who feel secure are better able to handle separations. Cuddling and comforting your child when you are together can help him or her feel more secure. Other ways to help your child with separations include the following:


  • At home, help your baby learn independence by allowing him or her to crawl to other (safe) rooms for a short period of time alone
  • Do not prolong good-byes and have the nurse distract your baby or child with a toy as you leave
  • Introduce a transitional object such as a blanket or soft toy to help ease separations

How our nurses will help your child with separation anxiety

Our nurses are fully trained to help your child deal with separation anxiety . We will insure your child is secure and minimize anxiety by :


  • Build sense of security through soothing play using encouraging words and praise
  • Using the correct tone of voice and body language and talking to your child explaining procedures taking place
  • Building trust by appointing a small team who will care for your child individually
  • Console your child through upsetting periods