Separation Anxiety In Foster Care

We know that no child deserves to be in foster care. In a perfect world, all children would have a family to go home to every night. However, in reality, this isn’t the case. We take pride in our efforts to make foster children live free and happy lives, but it’s only natural that some kids still go through tough times. One of the ways these tough times can take form is through separation anxiety.


What Is Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety is the anxiety that people experience when they are separated from something that they’ve grown used to being around. This is often seen in young children, and while it usually refers to the separation from the child’s mother it can also extend to other people and objects such as Aunts & Uncles, blankets, and soothers.

However, the most likely cause of separation anxiety is the child’s separation from their parents. It’s hard wired into a child’s brain to be with their parents, and it’s completely normal for a child to feel this way at an early age.


Separation Anxiety in Foster Care

Foster care can play a huge role in the causation of separation anxiety. Foster care is often times a child’s worst fears realized. Think back to when you were a child – we’ve all had the experience of being separated from our parents in a supermarket, or a store, etc. Remember that anxiety you felt that you may never see your parents again? That is the anxiety that many children in foster care feel every single day.

Foster care can be detrimental for outgrowing these separation anxiety symptoms. By being in foster care, these children can experience separation anxiety well past the age that is deemed ‘normal’.  It can also have a strong behavioral effect on the child, as it can cause them to act out and become hostile and aggressive to other care takers and children.


What Can Be Done? 

The best thing that can be done with a child in foster care that is experiencing separation anxiety is to develop a bond with them. Go out of your way to show that specific child that you are there for them when they need you, and you are someone who shows compassion and care in all situations. The biggest thing is to build that sense of trust with the child, as he or she likely feels alone and scared.


A child never wants to be in foster care. They don’t yet understand whether or not it’s the best thing for them, and as such can develop a strong sense of separation anxiety. In order to get them over this hurdle, it’s important that the caregiver builds a bond with them in order to show that they are not alone in this world. It will take a lot of time to build that foundation, but in the end, it is the best thing for the child.

Holy Cross Children’s Services wants to bring hope and change lives for children throughout Michigan. Find out how you can help!