"Anxiety provoked in a young child by separation or the threat of separation from their mother."
My little man, now 20 months old, is still a total mama's boy. He has a tremendous need to know where I am and what I am doing at all times. He has improved a little bit at his Monday daycare and his Tuesday/Thursday church program, but (seven weeks later) we have not eliminated those drop-off tears just yet.
Separation anxiety is completely normal in older babies and toddlers. While separation anxiety is most common in small children between 8-15 months old, it is not considered a disorder or major problem until later, around kindergarten or first grade. I think my guy is just our snuggly sensitive one. Our daughter was born with a strong independent streak, but he would prefer to stay close to me at all times. And when he is away at daycare/school, he often repeats our names, "Mama... Dada... YaYa (sister)..." Reminding himself who we are and saying our names is his way of coping until we return.
Hopefully, as we continue to practice drop-off and pick-up three days per week, he will become more and more confident in his understanding that Mama comes back.
If your child is several years older and still experiencing separation anxiety that has begun to affect regular life, this WebMD article may be helpful: Separation Anxiety Disorder. And, as always, keep your pediatrician informed of any worries.