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4.5 year old still attached by umbilical cord!(15 Posts)
I am a sole parent with a 4.5 year old who is so attached, you wouldn't think the umbilical cord had been cut! I adore my son but i'm am finding it hard when I can't leave him with anyone as he will cry and just wants me. I only go out in the evenings around 4-5 times a year and even those are difficult as he will cry. I have to say I'm going to work and have to leave wearing a suit. Recently, he has got even more clingy and genuinely sounds panicky . Last week i had my best friend's 40th celebration. My sister came from considerable distance to look after him but he cried lots (I just can't leave him distressed). I had to wait for him to sleep and got to the event 3 hours later.
I would welcome advice on how I can get him to happily stay with family members/ child minders for an evening. How do I stop him having these panic attacks?
Oh poor you , that must be so hard to manage; I can appreciate from first hand experience how close you can get as single mum and son (my DS 9 now, in the past I've done the same; incl waited till he was asleep before going out). has he started school yet? perhaps he's feeling clingy because he's missing his time with you during the day?
reading your post with my own hindsight, I can spot a couple of factors:
1) you say you can't leave him distressed
2) he's got you wound round his little finger so much you will even dress up in a suit to pretend you are going to work
3) you ended up waiting for him to fall asleep and then you snuck off!
please please don't take this as any criticism; believe me I've done the same..EXACTLY the same (not the suit, but I have pretended I'm going to wrk)! Your son is getting to an age where he will be seeing through these ruses, and might be a little less trusting of you and more panicky because of it. Imagine if he wakes up after you've gone out without telling him? how unsettling would that be? I genuinely think honesty is the best policy here, and maybe getting him used to you leaving him with a friend for an hour or so in the daytime, and seeing you return, and when he gets more comfortable with the idea, build up to longer periods.
Have a look at some supernanny vids on youtube, and think about what she would do... and there is a parenting programme I attended run by my local Council called 'the incredible years' which I personally found vey helpful: see if you can get hold of the book www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1892222043/?tag=hydra0b-21&hvadid=9556673229&ref=asc_df_1892222043 or join up to a local parenting group/class/network.
You somehow have to stop letting him be in control of this, and take charge of the situation. And it will probably mean leaving while he's still crying to begin with.
Right now he's learned that if he cries enough you won't go out; you need to teach him that there's no problem if you go out; you still love him and you will always come back. ( theres a picture story book about three owl babies who's mum flies off to get food but always comes back www.amazon.co.uk/Owl-Babies-Martin-Waddell/dp/074454923X )
sorry so long, but I really feel for you on this one
IMO you need to go out more often and let him acclimatise. Agree that he will learn you are fibbing by wearing a suit eventually.
Could a family member babysit regularly? What about leaving him for an hour regularly and building up his security that you always return. Is he asleep/in bed when you get back so he doesn't see you come in?
Choose a special toy or activity that only comes out when you leave him or plan with him what he can/wants to do when x or y looks after him.
Be totally honest that you are going out and reassure him you are coming back citing examples if how mummy always returns.
When its time to go try and get out the door faster- it was a hard lesson for me but I truly believe I made it worse for dd hanging around anxiously when I left her at nursery etc. she was always fine when id gone
Dear Lorrikeet and Piemother, thank you so much for taking time to post your helpful comments. I shall definitely look into the books, videos and courses.
My son started school in September (he is the youngest boy in the class, born in August). It has taken him the first term to settle in (took him 4 months to settle into nursery earlier).
My son spends all his time with me, he is so attached that he will follow me around the house (including bathroom), I cant call friends/text as he just wants undivided attention. Its only now I can reply as he is asleep He refuses to go on play dates anymore as he says he has "had too many," he just wants to come home.
Its true, he knows if he cries I find it difficult to leave him. I have no family near by and have tried booking child minders (former staff from nursery) but then end up paying for them to sit downstairs whilst I try and console him upstairs. Finally, I end up just not going out and parting with money for nothing.
I hate fibbing about work but once I said I was going to meet some mothers from the nursery and he screamed saying he wanted to come too (because he knew them). The excuse of going to work is now not really working either because he screams the same thing, having visited my place of work on one occasion.
Once asleep, he usually stays asleep but I agree if he woke up then it would be a nightmare.
I shall have to try and leave him for an hour or so and re assure him I am coming back. I will have to try and leave him crying ( which will upset me lots).
Thank you once again for your helpful comments, its nice to know there are people out there who know what it is like.
Leaving your dc upset is horrid I hated doing it but you are helping them in the long run because it boils down to the fact he thinks you won't come back. You can build his trust that you come back and then it's done.
I agree with others though that he is in charge if you and that needs to stop IMO. You are entitled to have some non essential time away from him he is not the boss of that.
Our dc was just as difficult.
Reception is hard and some children take longer to adjust and I'm afraid to say that some children have the poor taste to prefer their civilised living parents to the school environment!
You may have to accept that in term times you really limit your time away, at least while he is in the lower forms, but when on holiday with him ie seeing him in the day time you get some time.
The other thing is that they do honestly find it easier to cope with doing things themselves while you are out. So him going to your DSis while you go out works, if he goes out too. If he stays T home, meltdown.
Then you do assertiveness, I know you would prefer to come but this time you are going to DSis , and I want to see a picture of everything you did while u was away. 30 x.
Said kindly and firmly.
But with bribery/ reward if he has been good with DSis.
Hi piemother and thewhistler, thank you for your helpful posts. He loves art so asking him to draw a picture is a great idea. I've been told he is clingy in my presence but manages to compose himself shortly afterwards. Need to be more assertive thank you once again, will try
When did you split from your ex - do you think he might be feeling insecure? Is there anything else happening at the moment which might be unsettling him? Does he see his dad and if so, is he happy to go off to him or is that difficult for him too?
Hi BertieBotts, thanks for post. We separated when my son was 2 days old and we were still in hospital (my decision - I had been thinking about it alot during my pregnancy). He does see his dad but will usually insist I stay too. Recently, he became afraid of the book Cops and Robbers ( I've not read it) which they covered at school as part of their "people who help" topic. In the evenings he regularly said he was afraid of robbers smashing the window and stealing his mummy or stealing him. The teachers have tried to deal with this fear as have I. He definitely has got more clingy since
I know it is hard OP but, if you allow this to continue, you will be allowing the tail to wag the dog so to speak. You need to reassure him you will always be there for him but establish that you are in control and he must learn to trust that you will always return. Pandering to his fears will do neither of you any good.
Dc was terrified of burglars for years. Two things have helped,
One, the avocado baby. Published by red fox. Baby sees off bullies and burglars. Read it yourself first.
Secondly, a little mantra/prayer to say at night with the bit in () brackets if you are so inclined
(Dear Lord) let no one break in or fire break out this night. (Amen).
My mother told me to try this with Ds and it works. Her nanny did it with her. After the bedtime story ( nice and unexciting, not we're going on a bear hunt) and after you have thought about the nice things that have happened today.
Simplistic, old fashioned, but helps. Not a magic wand.
My oldest ds is also 4 and has become like this after separation. I still go out but it's hard wen he's so distressed. My nursery advised leaving something special of mine with him to look after... Something he knows ill come back and get?! I tried this yesterday and have him my lipstick and mirror he started to get upset wen I said we were going to preschool but then I said... Look you can have my precious things and can you keep them really safe for me etc etc it did calm him down and he grown up having the responsibility of having something of mine. Worth a go x
Ps also I'm reading him a book called Owl Babies... Mummy always comes back.. It's good for starting conversations about his fears etc
The trouble is you need to be able to contain your sons anxieties, if his anxiety is making you anxious its just going to get worse. Everytime you don't cope with him getting upset you are just confirming to him that he has every reason to be upset iyswim?
Sorry if I sound harsh and I know its terrible to see your kids upset but you are doing him no favours.
Last weekend I left my dd screaming hysterically with my brother (I was going on a very rare night out) and although I felt terrible leaving her like that I also felt fairly sure that when I was 5 mins down the road she would be fine!! Of course she was and had a lovely evening chilling with her uncle. So what I am saying is, try and be a bit stronger!!
Timidviper, The Whistler, Wrenner and Girliefriend, Thank you all for your posts. Sorry I haven't been able to reply earlier. You are right I must be stronger and hope in time he will learn to trust I will always return.
Recently, I had to leave him up north for the day at my parents and return back down South to work. When he awoke, he cried then refused to get changed or allow my parents to help him. However, as the day progressed he had fun. When I returned late at night he was still awake and stopped briefly to say hello but then carried on playing!
Thank you for the book recommendations, they sound ideal, just what we need. Will try a prayer at night and giving him something to look after whilst I am out.
Also because I work unstructured hours, I do not always know if I can collect him from school, I think this needs to be tackled as he is feeling it and its making him anxious and worried.
Thank you for all our relies, they are much appreciated x
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