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Stranger anxiety

 
Stranger anxiety is a normal, common part of a child’s development. Just as babies and young children go through different phases of language development and motor development, they also go through different stages of social development. Find out more.
Stranger anxiety is a normal, common part of a child’s development.

Just as babies and young children go through different phases of language development and motor development, they also go through different stages of social development. Stranger anxiety is one of these stages.

Stranger anxiety is a form of distress babies and toddlers feel when they are exposed to people unfamiliar to them. It usually begins slowly and starts to show between 6 to 12 months old, but commonly around 8 to 9 months of age.

Children vary significantly in how much stranger anxiety they have. But most have some. The chances are that nothing will actually happen to hurt or frighten your little one, beyond the fear of strangers itself.

It is actually a sign that they are maturing psychologically. It means that they have learned the difference between people they know and people they don’t know. It also means that they are bonding more strongly to you.

Stranger anxiety may continue until your little one is around 18 months old and then it will start to go away.
 

Symptoms of stranger anxiety


Common symptoms of stranger anxiety include:
  
  • When approached by an unfamiliar person your little one may cry, scream and yell.
 
  • They may also become quieter and quieter and stare at the stranger.
 
  • They may try to hide behind you or run away.
 
  • They may become hesitant to mix and play with unfamiliar children.
 

Dealing with stranger anxiety


Some ways to help your little one deal with stranger anxiety include:
  
  • Take it slow. As frustrating as it may be, this phase may last several months. So be patient and know that it will eventually pass.
 
  • Pick your little one up or hold their hand when approaching a potential stranger and give them some reassurance.
 
  • Never make fun of the fact they are anxious in front of other people. It may make the situation worse and make your little one feel insecure.
 
  • Frequently introduce your little one to new people. Take them to places where they might have to interact with strangers.
 
  • Help you toddler to make friends and let everyone know that they need time to warm up to people. Explain that it’s best not to rush in and pick them up or demand hugs and kisses the minute they see them. Instead, tell them to slow down and then once your little one is feeling comfortable, offer them a toy or familiar item to help entice them to interact.

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