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Doctor Betti
Dr. Betti Hertzberg Ressler is a Board Certified Pediatrician on staff at Miami Children's Hospital. Dr. Hertzberg developed the toilet training video "Let's Go Potty." She is the co-author of "The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies for Children."

Separation Anxiety

Question: My 7 year old has developed anxiety about being separated from her Dad and me. This started after she got over viral pneuomia and now is trying to find a daily reason to stay home from school. Any suggestions? We are very frustrated and want to do what's best.

Answer: SEPARATION ANXIETY may occur as a result of any stressful situation, including that of an illness. It may be very frightening to a young child, especially if the illness caused a significant change in the daily routine.

A young child doesn't quite understand why all the fuss was made. The fact is, she received much attention during her illness. Your presence during this time was very comforting, both emotionally and physically. This is attention (from her parents) that she does not get at school.

Now that she is recovered and back to her previous routine, she may be trying to hold on to the attention she received while she was ill. OR she may be afraid of getting sick again! She may associate being in school with getting sick again. Her grades are good. She is smart. Smart enough to be able to try and manipulate her way into staying home for some more attention.

It's a difficult situation for parents. It's even more difficult to be objective, especially when your child has been ill with more than just a simple runny nose. Children will also react to their parent's response of a situation.

Being supportive and reassuring will help your daughter readjust. Speak with her teachers at school. When everyone works together, it will provide an overall support

Also see:

  • Strategies for overcoming fears of darkness
  • What is the cause of ITP and is there anything that can prevent it from recurring?
  • Can a pediatrician comfortably prescribe and manage ADHD medication or is it better suited to a psychiatrist?
  • Ask Dr. Betti your questions

    This information is not intended to be a substitute for visiting your pediatrician. If you or your child has specific concerns, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.

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