I had decided at one point that I wanted to do something in the field of psychology that also related to children. I decided that I would intern at a local elementary school with a child psychologist who would help some of the children who were really struggling. Some of the children suffered from ADD or other issues that required behavior modification, but much of what I observed while I was doing the internship was separation anxiety disorder in children, which was pretty sad to watch.
As I understand it, these children become extremely attached to their parents, which one would expect. However, with separation anxiety disorder in children, these youngsters are fearful that their mother or father is abandoning them, and that they will never see them again. I saw how such children would sob as their parents tried to leave. In some cases, they would grab one of their parents' legs, and would not let them go until they were physically pried off, and it was quite traumatic for me when I first watched!
It was not that easy for the child psychologist to counsel the child either, because most of the time he or she was practically irreconcilable. I watched it take literally hours before a therapist could deal with separation anxiety disorder in children, and even then, as soon as the child remembered the fact that the parents were gone, he or she would start crying again. Sometimes, these kids would miss an entire day of class and have to take home a huge amount of homework to stay on task.
One of the hardest things about separation anxiety disorder in children was the effect it would have on parents, and in particular, mothers. We had a lot of mothers who would come back over and over again, and we would try to tell them that was the worst thing they could be doing. We finally had to counsel some of the parents regarding the issues surrounding separation anxiety disorder in children, and inform them that the only way their children were going to improve was if they were gone the entire day and then picked them up after school so that their kids could see they had not abandoned them.
What I ultimately realized is that most cases of separation anxiety disorder in children go away over time. As children began to understand that their parents were coming back, and they see the other kids going to class and having fun, they want to be a part of things. It is sad to watch, but typically, it does not last.