Around 15 years ago, at Child Psychopathology class, my favorite lecturer shared her own experience of handling separation anxiety symptoms showed by her son. Back then she had to leave her two-year old son to pursue her study at the Netherlands. When she returned, her son started to show specific behavior, in which he would touch my lecturer and whisper to himself: Mommy is here. Then he would walk toward the door, just to return and do it all again for several times.
That story sticks with me throughout these years as I met numerous children at my professional life. And turns out, I have to face it now with my son.
I just returned from a week long business trip. I was feeling abnormal to leave him at home for so long. I had no doubt that my parents and family will look after him very well, but at the same time, my guilty feeling strikes. The thought of ‘I should’ve stayed longer at home with him’ was never out of my head.
Two days ago, I was spending time with him in re-arrange his toys and cleaning up the shelves. He reached out to his rubber ducks – with one mother duck and four ducklings. He was choosing the mother duck and said to himself: Mama. I was watching him closely. When he finally touch the mother duck to me and said: Mama again… I knew something was not right. I asked him, did you miss Mama so much when I was away? He nodded. Then he stood up and hug me.
He is only twenty months old, but he certainly knows how to express his feeling. It is killing me as I know what is the message that he conveys to me.
Last night, he insisted to bring his mother duck to bed. I was next to him and whispered to him that he doesn’t need the rubber duck, as I am there with him.
I believe this is the challenge that every working mom can relate to. Therefore, it is very important to always remember what is our priority. I heard a lot of super moms who finally put down their careers for their children. Brave decision can only be taken by brave people. I hope I do remember my priority and act accordingly.
What is Separation Anxiety?
I just had my Qualitative Research Method proposal done (for my final examination). I chose Separation Anxiety in Twins. The topic about twins had always amazed me since I did my bachelor degree thesis. At that time, I chose Individuality in Twins. I got a clear image on how hard is it to build individuality in twins, because they always have such a unique relationship that can be understood by them…
In my latest proposal, I chose separation anxiety in twins. Separation anxiety is a psychological condition when a person has excessive anxiety of being separated from home or other caregiver figures (APA, 2000). The early onset is at 6 years of age and it is not happening after 18 years old (if it so, then we need to refer to other diagnoses).
My twin brothers and me
Separation anxiety disorder used to be known as school phobia, because it happens during the school years and children are showing reluctancy to go to school or join in after-school activities. Separation anxiety is common on 0-3 years of age, but then it becomes disorder when children can’t go to school and enjoy the class after 3 years of age. This disorder will affect their academic performances and social life too.
There is one example of severe separation anxiety on 18-year-old fraternal twins (adulttwins-separation-anxiety). They showed number of severe depression (Twin A) and anxiety symptoms (Twin B). They mentioned thoughts of killing themselves and even hurt himself (Twin A) with knife and fire extinguisher. This condition was started with a week of separation because they went to different university after graduating their High School years. Sometimes the reasons of separation anxiety in twins are irrational.
What parents can do?
Parents can start by talking to their twins about their individuality and their uniqueness as a person. They are unique as twins, and they know that for sure. But sometimes, twins do not understand that they need to be a person individually. It is very important for parents to tell their twins about this as early as possible.
Parents can help their twins by enhance each child ability or talents. By doing so, each child will feel special and understand their being a complete child, not merely as a unit of twins. If your twins show any differences in sports or academic, do not stop that, instead enhance that.
Way to go, parents!