Help! With A 6 Year Old With Separation Anxiety! Sorry Long!

Lounge By Carson Updated 21 Mar 2009 , 11:28pm by Carson

Carson Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 3:19am
post #1 of 23

This is a very long and drawn out story...but all your valuable opinions are needed!

My 6 year old dd has always been shy...would rather be with me or my dh. She had a few troubles in daycare as a toddler (crying for me and not wanting to go) but we finally settled her into one at 20 months old that she has been at ever since.

She loves school (she's in Kindergarten) and to our surprise we haven't had trouble taking her there...until this last week. We really struggled with her in Preschool, but she seems to of blossomed in Kindergarten.

I just went back to work full time in Jan (I was off for 1 year after the birth of my other daughter, then worked part time for a year). We found out dd was trying to keep me at home because she was afraid my dh and I would get a divorce. My parents divorced last July and it never seemed to effect her until my mom recently started seeing someone else. My dh teased me one time about my "boyfriend" at work, and I guess she took it a little too literally.

We got the school thing solved (because she has the BEST teacher). When my dd refused to go the teacher came to my house and picked her up. It worked because dd wouldn't want to make a huge fuss in front of her teacher (she is very careful not to get in trouble at school) and she didn't get away with staying home. The problem is this stuff builds up so much because she refuses to talk to anyone.

So we have her going to school (its just mornings everyday). There is no school tomorrow or Friday and we need her to go to Grandma's. This is my dh's mom, who isn't very "motherly". She has been crying all night about going there, and now so am I. This is our only option for tomorrow morning and I know she isn't in any danger there - I am just so worried his mom will make it worse by not being patient about the situation.

So all I'm getting now is that she misses me and why can't I take a day off. She is being aggressive and angry towards her 2 year old sister (like pushing her to the ground). I am not tolerating it at all but I guess she is an easy target to let her frustrations out.

How do I get her to talk to me?
Should I force her to go somewhere that obviously causes her so much stress to go to?
What can I do to boost her confidence with others?
Am I missing something here?

If you stayed with me this long, I thank you!

22 replies
mommyle Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 3:51am
post #2 of 23

Ohhhh... Carson, darling. That is so tough. The first thing that I think of is "family photos". pack a book of them for her to take with her everywhere. And the photos of you all together. No one is separate.

The agressive issue is tough. But you need to be on top of her each time and talk about "gentle hands". Try to catch it before it happens and reward her with hugs and love that she used "gentle hands". I love that phrase. Can you tell?

Have play dates with other kids. once she finds a friend or two in her own comfort zone it might transfer to school.

I would seriously force her to go. No exceptions. Well, unless she's really sick. Once you give in it's all over. HOWEVER, if you need to schedule a dr's appt or dentist, I would make it for during the school time (just to give her a break!)

Just keep trying to talk to her. Keep letting her know that even though you and daddy sometimes get frustrated or mad or don't see eye-to-eye, that you love each other, and friends do that. They can have differences (Sesame Street does good on that subject) and still be friends. Show her SO many people who are still married after all those years. Show her the cards in the store that are for 10 yr anniversaries, 20, 30, 50... you know, just when you are out "shopping" some day.

Oh yes, and my mom is NOT very motherly either. But you need to warn the children that "cry and you cry alone" at grandma's house, but that doesn't mean that she doesn't love you. That's just the way she is. The ways that she shows you that she loves you are by doing THIS (whatever it is). So remember that every time grandma does THIS, it's love.

All you can do is love her. I'm sure others will respond with more. I hoped that I could help a bit.

summernoelle Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 3:52am
post #3 of 23

Your daughter and my son are cut from the same cloth. This sounds so much like what I go through sometimes with him. And they are even the same age. icon_smile.gif The shyness, the trepidation of school, the acting out, they are just alike. And it is so hard!

The only thing that works is going on dates with him. We go somewhere he likes to eat, chow down on yummy food, have fun, and I try to sneakily ask him about stuff. He will really open up, and likes the individual attention.

The is so hard. I wish I could tell you how to make it easier for her. My son went through a period where he was terrified to go to school (because of a bully). The only thing that helped was empowering him that the way he deals with the situation is in his own hands. He can be sad and shy, duck his head and hide or he can stand up for himself. I know it isn't the same, but try to empower her. Try to give her strength and confidence. This is SO much easier said than done.

Good luck to you my friend. icon_smile.gif ((((((hugs)))))))

summernoelle Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 3:54am
post #4 of 23
Originally Posted by mommyle

I would seriously force her to go. No exceptions. Well, unless she's really sick. Once you give in it's all over. HOWEVER, if you need to schedule a dr's appt or dentist, I would make it for during the school time (just to give her a break!)

Totally. This is where the empowerment comes in. You will not get to stay at home and hide-you need to learn to face your fears. Teach her how to cope with what is going on inside...

Is she in any extra curricular activities? My son does Karate and it works wonders!

jlynnw Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 4:08am
post #5 of 23

Wow, I dunno, that has got to be hard. I would talk to her about needing time alone with daddy while she is at grandma's house. I would also find a special treat when you get back. A trip to the park. Out for a soda - whatever, (I prefer no food rewards and cheap or free things). Go even if she is a hateful horrible bad behaved child you would never want. When you are on you date talk about it the good the bad and the ugly. Tell he hom much you love her as often as you can. I am not a big PDA person, but let her see you and daddy huggie kissie and affectionate. Let her see and her you "whisper" sweet nothings to daddy and how much you love him - as long as that is the case. If you are headed for the Big D, I am out of ideas.

Carson Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 4:24am
post #6 of 23

We are nowhere near heading for the big "D". A little disagreement between us right now seems like a huge ordeal to her. It never really occured to us that this is what would be bothering her at the moment since something like this didn't before - but its just the grandparents who divorced that got her to worry. She didn't actually tell me so but this is what she said to me...

"I don't like it when you and Daddy fight" (at this point I was racking my brain for the last time we actually did fight...nothing). As I was reassuring her that I love him and we are married and that means forever to me she looked at me and said (between tears) "No...he's getting old and you will find someone new." I would of laughed if she wasn't so dead serious and upset. We always tease my Dad about aging - he hates it but he is old enough to deal with it! Then she sees my Mom with someone new. We talk about all the grey hairs dh is getting...she puts it all together...and bam!

I was orginally worried it was something at school, but it doesn't seem to be - she actually went without a fight today. Its just Grandma's/daycare/any other babysitter that we are having major problems with.

I will keep forcing her to go, and that can mean dragging her out the door. She has now started telling me her stomach hurts...I just keep thinking, ya, stress will do that. I am making a doc appointment for her but really feel its not physical.

Thanks for all the advice though, I was really starting to worry and feel bad that maybe it was wrong to force her to go. She is registered for soccer, which she played for the last 2 years and loves it and swimming lessons. She has really come out of her shell a lot since Kindergarten...but still doesn't want to go to friend's houses or even birthday parties without me being there.

jlynnw Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 4:33am
post #7 of 23

whew, glad to know no big D for you! Just really try and impress on her about how much you love the family, her, and your DH. Just try to keep her talking about everything. Stock up on kleenex. It is a hard transition time for her. I am out of familar territory at school and about to go fulltime next fall, the grands aren't together. I would also ask the teacher if any of her friends parents are divorcing. She may see that as a big thing that happens to ALL parents at some point.

Carson Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 4:47am
post #8 of 23
Originally Posted by jlynnw

whew, glad to know no big D for you! Just really try and impress on her about how much you love the family, her, and your DH. Just try to keep her talking about everything. Stock up on kleenex. It is a hard transition time for her. I am out of familar territory at school and about to go fulltime next fall, the grands aren't together. I would also ask the teacher if any of her friends parents are divorcing. She may see that as a big thing that happens to ALL parents at some point.

Funny you should say that, one of her little friend's parents separated and the father moved far away when the mom was 8 months pregnant! She had the baby alone and now is a single parent. I think maybe it has just been overwhelming to see how many parents are actually separated to her. I have parent-teacher interviews on Friday and will be talking more with the teacher. She is awesome for including stuff the kids are dealing with now...not just following books. We have been making a huge effort with all the girls (dh has a dd from a previous relationship-so another divorce to feed from) to do family time everyday (usually just a board game - I'm so sick of Dora Bingo its not even funny!!).

She puts a lot of pressure on herself to behave perfectly and only get the right answers to questions. She lets the stress out at home (where she feels safe) and is usually very caring and "motherly" to her sister. She was very upset about going to Grandma's and when she takes her new fav toy, she over-reacts. I do not let this slide...time out, a talk and an apology. She hates all of that because of her anal can't do or admit that she is wrong side.

Tita9499 Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 5:01am
post #9 of 23

I have no advice to give because I haven't dealt with that in my two younger ones. By the time I get them to their Sunday school class, they've run off and left me so I doubt they have separation anxiety.

I'll keep your DD and your family in my prayers though!

Carson Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 5:05am
post #10 of 23
Originally Posted by Tita9499

I have no advice to give because I haven't dealt with that in my two younger ones. By the time I get them to their Sunday school class, they've run off and left me so I doubt they have separation anxiety.

I'll keep your DD and your family in my prayers though!

Thanks, its funny how different my 2 year old is! She is not really shy, not so sensitive and would stay anywhere, with anyone that I leave her with. Its hard to find the balance between them.

jlynnw Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 1:21pm
post #11 of 23

Oh, by no means let the behavior slide. Just be patient and loving. Last night, it was gorgeous out side. We ate on our patio. The kids loved it! They thought it was the neatest and got out the picnic stuff and VOLUNTARILY set the table. Try shaken things up a bit like that. Not the same old board (borrrrrrrrrrrrring) game, try a treasure hunt (pjs, toothbrush, toothpaste, fav book) and make the everyday chore into fun play.

mommyle Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 6:06pm
post #12 of 23

You need to talk to her about making mistakes, and how we all do it (completely screw up a cake "by accident" and show her that you can "fix" it, make a mistake on a drawing and fix it... you get the idea), but it's not the end of the world. EVERY ONE does it, point out.

also, I would have a happily married couple over for supper. Talk to them before hand. At the supper table say something like "Gee, you know, my DH and I sometimes find ourselves arguing about THIS, what do you do when you argue? What advice do you have to live happily ever after?" Escpecially an older couple. Also, ask DD if her and her friends ALWAYS agree on everything. How do they reconcile differences? This is exactly what grown-ups do, too.

Finally, and I know this sound trite, but have her watch and analyze Disney movies (they are SO wrong on so many levels, BUT people do break up and then come back together). As well, Little House on the Prairie is good. You can probably rent from the library, or you can buy seasons at a time thru Amazon. People have differences, but they are always friends in the end. And Season 1 and 2 are good for little ones. Good family values, too.

Good luck, sweetie!

Carson Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 7:06pm
post #13 of 23

Well, she cried and cried last night...cried this morning but only for like a couple minutes after we left her at Grandma's. We took a couple favorite games over for them and Grandma played with them (guess our phone call explaining the situation helped)! She was happy when DH picked her up.

I just wish she wouldn't make herself so sick and stressed over things days before it actually happens. If she just cried when we dropped her off it would be a lot easier to handle!

Hopefully tomorrow with daycare is better!

mommyle Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 7:55pm
post #14 of 23

glad to hear it! good luck tomorrow!

JodieF Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 9:52pm
post #15 of 23

Use the good time she had at Grandma's the next time this comes up! "Remember how you cried when you were going to Grandma's, then then you had a good time and were happy when Daddy came and got you? Well, you'll be happy again this time!"
You're doing the right thing by not caving in to tears. If you do, she'll just continue trying to manipulate you that way. I wouldn't praise her too much after a good experience, maybe just pointing out how glad you are that she had a good time and are getting to be such a big girl. I used to tell my kids that part of growing up was learning to spend time away from mommy and daddy, and wow...look how grown up you're getting to be!
My older son has always been hard on himself. We just had to remind him that everyone makes mistakes and all we can do is to try and fix them. We didn't dwell on mistakes. If we punished him and he wanted to make it a bigger deal than it was, we'd just say it's over and done with and now we start over.

Good luck...hang in there!


mommyle Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 12:55am
post #16 of 23

Ok, off topic totally, Jodie, every time I see your cake I'm all, "Oh, I SO love that cake!" SUPER pretty!

Carson, if it makes you feel any better, I just went to parent teacher interviews and my DD is about 2 yrs behind in emotions (among other things), and now I'm drinking tequila. I'm sure that tomorrow will go as well, if not better, and it will only get better from here on it!

JodieF Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 1:44am
post #17 of 23

Awwww....thanks Mommyle! That's so sweet of you! You should try a chocolate wrap. It wasn't hard at all!

As to your daughter, she's gonna be fine. Kids can mature drastically over a few months even! She's going to be fine. I work with almost 400 of them every day!


Carson Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 2:16am
post #18 of 23

How old is your daughter Mommyle?

She did a lot of "I don't want to go" tonight...started with the tears a bit but we were able to distract her better tonight. She had a really good day with two Grandmas. She asked to stay up with me until I go to bed tonight...which is odd because she is usually asking to go to bed, she likes her sleep. I really don't want to start having trouble getting her to bed, when she is tired she is even more difficult. But she went, with just a little resistance.

I have parent/teacher tomorrow...I can't wait to see what the teacher says. We are also doing a family movie night (with popcorn) at her request tomorrow night. I'm going to try to find a movie that has a growing up/separation theme - any ideas?

mommyle Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 4:07am
post #19 of 23

Mine is 10, turning 11 and in Grade 5. I have a Masters of Education, specializing in Disabilties, and sometimes I feel like I'm so far behind the 8 ball with her. UGh!!! I feel like I "broke"her, according to her teacher. Need a psychologist. Crap. Oh well...

Carson, Keep on trucking. "yes, but you had fun, right? what was the best part? what are you looking forward to tomorrow?" help her to focus on the good stuff.

And teachers have a code of speech. As the teacher point-blank questions. Don't take vague. have them put it into real terms. "well she is a delicate soul and we are..." stop her dead and ask for the blackand white.

Good luck, but be persistent! You might be pleasantly surprised! not like me (on to my 5th tequila!).

Carson Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 4:19am
post #20 of 23

So if you don't mind me asking...where do you think you went wrong with your dd that you "broke" her? I doubt that you broke her....and if tequila helps you come to that conculsion, then drink up! lol

I'm just asking because I am trying to get through to her before she needs a psychologist...I am thinking because she doesn't seem to be able to talk to me or dh (or anyone else for that matter) that maybe a professional can get her to open up.

mommyle Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 5:21am
post #21 of 23

Well, As you know from the other threads, I'm a pretty hard-core kind of mom. I'm pretty blunt and black and white, and I am more male than female in that I try to "fix"problems, rather than listen to the problems. I never really helped her look for the solutions. here is the example.. the DD is trying to reach a toy on the counter. Can't reach it. I tell her to grab the stool to reach it. I should have asked her what was in the room to help her "grow"to reach it. So now she has NO problem-solving skills. She has anger and resentment starting from the fact that we were on our own from when she was born until she was 5 and now she shares me with DH and DS... I don't spend enough one-on-one time with her (darnit, I don't get enough ME time!!!). I could go on, but I need another drink, and it's 11:20 and the DS is still up and the DAH is playing video games. ****

dinas27 Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 1:42pm
post #22 of 23

I don't have much advice for you as I have no children of my own but I think that just knowing what she scared of is the biggest hurdle, you can work with that.

I am good with google though... and you asked for some good movie ideas, check out this link

I know I LOVED the Land Before Time movies when I was a kid - some of these deal with some of the issues that your daughter perceives, you can read a good summary of some of the plots here

Another thought - I was actually discussing a similar issue with a coworker a few days ago. They moved a few years ago to a new much larger house and their son changed a lot (age 12), they thought it was a change in school etc but when they took him to see a councilor she asked him to draw how he felt in his family. He drew his mother, father and sister in one circle and placed himself far away. It turned out that he felt excluded because when they moved because his new room was on a different floor than the others which was very different than their cozy quarters before. The advice they were given was to keeping telling them they loved him until he told them to stop.

I think a PPs thoughts about having a family picture album that is just hers is great, maybe make a drawing together that includes your whole family to hang on the fridge, in her room, staying in her backback (you could even laminate it so that it never gets damaged.

Carson Posted 21 Mar 2009 , 11:28pm
post #23 of 23

We had a great parent/teacher interview! Basically she is too bright for her own good. I guess I should count my blessings, she is advanced in reading and math (the teacher has to pull out a separate box of books for her). She is way beyond what a kindergarten kid should be...but that makes her smart enough to understand some scary stuff in the world - and over-think it. I think her acting up at home is a way to deal with stress and now I have to figure out how to convince her not to stress out about this stuff a 6 year old shouldn't even be thinking about! icon_cry.gif It stresses me out - wonder where she gets it? lol icon_confused.gif

dinas27, you are good with google! Thanks for the links to the articles!

Mommyle - I know what you mean about fixing the problems. I'm going to try to learn by example and try to teach my kids problem solving skills. Her teacher actually reassured me that this is who she is and she will develop coping skills - I just hope I don't hamper them!

I will be looking for help for my next dd when she enters Kindergarten (in 3 years icon_rolleyes.gif ) for a whole new set of problems! She wouldn't let anything someone says get to her - she would just push them over~and likely kick dirt in their eyes! She knows how to work her cute and innocent face so well - it amazes me! icon_rolleyes.gif

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