Temperament and Separation Anxiety
It makes sense on an evolutionary level for children to experience separation anxiety. Crying, whining and whimpering when a parent is not close by can cause the parent to not stray from the young child, ensuring that their basic survival needs are met.
While separation anxiety is a normal part of childhood development as we have previously discussed, some children experience it earlier, longer, or at random intervals. This is often due to the child’s temperament. Temperament can be described as the way a person approaches and reacts to the world around them. All children are born with a unique temperament that is rooted in their biology. Children with a difficult temperament or children whose temperament is very different from their parents’ may experience attachment issues (Carey & McDevitt, 1995).
There are three distinct temperament types ranging from slow to warm or cautious, easy or flexible, and active or feisty.
Temperament can have an impact on separation anxiety but is not the only factor that influences it.
Optional Resources for Further Study
- Infant/Toddler Temperament Tool by Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation
- Birth Order and Temperament by Ingela Ratledge
- Tips on Temperament by ZERO TO THREE: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families
- Temperament Types by About Kids Health Canada