Separation Anxiety on Sleepovers & School Camps


Dr Kimberley O'Brien

Separation Anxiety on Sleepovers & School Camps

Dr Kimberley kicks off by explaining that children often present with separation anxiety at Quirky Kid around the age of two and that it can reoccur when children start primary school or go to school camp or sleepovers. She says it can even occur again at the start of high school and children need a lot of care and support to get through it.

Naomi reveals to Dr Kimberley that Yasi’s separation anxiety started around age two or three and affected her ability to enjoy daycare, participate in activities and go to birthday parties. She would stick by her mother’s side and be unable to participate even if she deeply wanted to be part of the fun.

When Naomi explains that she ended up sticking around for birthday parties and her daughter would eventually float into the group, Dr Kimberley says that she uses techniques including role-playing and visuals in the clinic to slowly help children get comfortable with situations that cause them anxiety. Naomi and Dr Kimberley agree that the “dump and leave” approach doesn’t work with children who suffer from this level of separation anxiety.

Dr Kimberley asks Naomi what techniques ended up working for her family. Naomi explains that finding the right psychologist, explaining the situation to Yasi’s friends and being persistent were the three things that helped the most. Because she has many years of experience working with children who have separation anxiety, Dr Kimberley shares some of her top techniques, including having a buddy system.

Exploring the parents’ perspective next, Dr Kimberley asks Naomi how she feels when Yasi is experiencing separation anxiety and Naomi admits she sometimes gets very irritated and has to work hard to stay patient. She says she’s the main person who supports Yasi because her husband is less patient and Dr Kimberley points out that different parenting styles can make dealing with separation anxiety difficult.

Further Reading


Separation Anxiety in Children

Naomi then shares that Yasi has found school camps and sleepovers challenging and that she needed to be encouraged to return to group activities after COVID. Dr Kimberley says these are common themes at Quirky Kid and offers advice.

What you will learn in this episode:

• What separation anxiety looks like
• When separation anxiety can occur
• Techniques that can help parents deal with separation anxiety
• How a hardline approach may be unhelpful

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