Our expert says:
At various ages, depending on the child and the circumstances, kids can get clingy and show Separation Anxiety such as you describe. Its puzzling when it seems to arise so suddenly, and may relate either to unpleasant events in the child's life, or to their simply reaching a higher developmental stage where they become more capable of recognizing that moms who go away and always come back, might not always come back.
Obviously at this age, it's not easy to discuss this with her, herself, in much detail, though one can still gently explore why she now fears you might not come back. Has there been any occasion(s) when you went out and for some reason came back later than expected, when she may have panicked alone, but might have quietened before you returned, so pwerhaps her distress on the occasion wasn't so noticeable for you ?
A chld psychologist would have more indirect ways to explore this with her, which could be helpful. You can also explore this theme with her in play with dolls and story-telling about the dolls, in which the older doll goes away, discussing with her how the baby doll feels, and emphasizing that the mommy doll will come back ; and in drawings, similarly
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