I need advice to help my DD with the anxiety that I have caused(30 Posts)
I started my almost 3YO DD at Nursery at the end of October. There was no need to (I am a SAHM) but I felt pressure from various people . I was a disaster (I posted here for advice at the time) and I ended up taking her out 2 weeks ago.
After starting Nursery she developed terrible separation anxiety. She clings to me like a limpet, screams if I even go outside to get something out of the car, won't let her dad get her up in the morning, won't stay with him playing in the lounge while I do chores. She will still stay with my mum and dad, although if the slightest thing upsets her she wants me again.
I have never had to deal with this before as she has always been great staying with members of the family. Do I accept that she needs to cling at the moment and go with it or do I try to push the staying with family a bit?
My DH is getting very upset as he always had a close relationship with her. Tonight she said she was sad (she has speech delay so she finds it hard to express herself). When I asked why she seemed to think for a bit and said daddy hit her. Now I know that this is 100% untrue. DH would never raise a hand to her, he never even shouts. Also, she hasn't left my side for a week!! When she said this DH looked like he was going to bursts into tears. All we can think of is that when DH and DD were playing with the Peppa Pig house today he got up to tend to our baby DS, didn't realise DD was behind him and knocked her over. DH is still upset tonight and said, "imagine if she said that to anyone, they would think I hit her and we could have social services round).
I am also really upset tonight. My DD's personality seems to have changed and it's all my fault. We were hoping to send her to the excellent school attached to that Nursery but I can't imagine I can ever send her there again now. It's my fault for sending her before she was ready.
How do I deal with this?
He's 10 months. DD has always got on great with him, never been jealous etc.
I'm so sorry you're going through this. I'm absolutely sure though, that because you are trying so hard to be a good mum (and dad) to your daughter and are so aware of her needs, that you will straighten this out. It probably is unfortunate that starting nursery and the new baby coincided with a time that little ones can go through a clingy phase anyway, so it just all looks worse than it really is, and with you and your dp there to reassure her and keep meeting her needs it will almost certainly pass. Please don't worry that you have changed her personality! You love her very much, she's going to know that if you keep doing what you're doing, and it will be ok.
I think it's likely to do with her way of dealing with the new baby, she may not be jealous etc but it's still a big upheaval for a little one to get used to
She's 3 in January. Is it normal to have a clingy phase now? I thought it was only in younger babies?!
This may sound totally odd, but I was listening to a puppy training thing on radio 4, about how to end separation anxiety in dogs (or stop it starting). I think it might work as there are parallels (close bond, but not able to tell the time so unable to judge time alone). You start by doing the process of leaving (coat, keys etc) and go to the door. Then immediately come back to dog/child. This builds an immediate idea that the ritual of going out does not lead to the big scary event of being abandoned. Keep going, building up to going the other side of the door, then straight back, lots of praise and contact, so the return becomes a joyful moment. Keep building until you leave for 5, 10, 15 min etc. until you can leave for hours.
here's my modification for a child with issues with being left with dad/gps... dad stays behind, but as a fairly neutral, calm but loving figure. Not using that desperate tense distraction method everyone gets into (been there!). Just sit on the floor, welcome cuddles, or put a hand on the back. But stay quiet and calm (if you speak, I find you get this nervy quality to the voice!) but smiley, or just get on with something interesting but child friendly, like building or painting something (BUT with NO exhortations aimed at small child to join, just have fun and make it look interestingly attractive to small people). It's a slow, slow process. Hard at times. Very much like sleep training.
Jealously isn't the only way young children react to new siblings. They may dote on their new baby brother/sister but still feel insecure themselves, even though as an adult you can't see any reason for them to feel that way. She is only 3, logic doesn't play a part in this; so even though you and your DH are doing everything you can, she may well be finding it hard to adjust to a new sibling, even though there's no 'reason' for her to.
Blah it's late, I hope that sort of makes sense!!
If you are who you think you are, are you sure that this isn't your anxiety effecting both your view points?
You have been very overly anxious about your daughter's speech delay and unhappy with other things in your life, are you sure this isn't actually your daughter picking up on your anxiety.
I have been anxious over the speech delay and we have had a tough year - illness, bereavement, new baby etc. I try not to show my anxiety to DD but who knows if she can sense it She was completely fine until the day she started Nursey though then all this started.
I feel your pain! Dd2 has been super clingy and sensitive since starting school in sept. 90% I just go with and accept her being superglued to me in the knowledge
hope that it's just a phase and will pass. I push her the other 10% (excluding my going to work) because I have to or I'll go nuts!
She has also started blaming people unfairly for things that happen which we are taking a harder line on. She is older than your dd though at 4.5
Don't blame yourself! Lots of kids experience this, especially when new experiences coincide with a new sibling. Have you seen a doctor to investigate whether the speech delay is indicative of any special needs? Even if there aren't any other difficulties, the speech delay could be making her anxious. My second child had a speech delay and she caught up eventually, but I remember she did a lot of screaming and clinging when other kids were able to express what was wrong.
separation anxiety IMO is a normal phase, my 3YO DD clings to my legs sometimes, other times in the same situation, she's completely relaxed. It's okay and normal and going to nursery is part of the preparation for going to school next year. Cut yourself some slack and just cuddle her until she's over it.
My DD went through a similar phase.I went to a few toddler things with her invited friends to play she was quite happy to go to theirs to play surprisingly and built up again from there she didn't even turn to wave on first day at school where as nursery she had to be prized off me!
My boy is three in january. He doesnt leve my side except for bed. My H had him in a room
Playing last week and i went for a wee. When he realised he came running towards me shouting mummy mummy mummy. He threw himself into my arms. I picked him up and he exclaimed i missed you!!!! Seriously, it was a wee. 2 mins.
It's a phase. Be what he needs right now.
My dd went through something similar after being left at a birthday party for the first time (she was almost 5!). I think the doctor advised I pander to her to a certain extent but not at the cost to my sanity! She did get over it, as will your dd.
DD was very anxious about me leaving her at nursery, would not go to any birthday parties (even if I offered to stay) and was also anxious about being left at school. Things improved but I don't remember a completely stress-free drop off until she was about Year 4.
I found one thing that helped; at the drop off we would go 5 or 10 mins before I had to leave and I would sit with her and let her get on with something. When she was ready for me to go she would push me away and say goodbye. When it was her choice that I left she could cope better with it. I started trying this in about Reception and it did help lots, she didn't have to be peeled off me crying. We used this little routine for years.
She is now 16YO and the typical hair-tossing teen, who won't be seen dead with her embarrassing mother!
DS went through a phase of only wanting me, but his dad doesn't live with me so it was even worse. He would scream and cry when his dad came for him and it broke his heart.
I reassured him and kept making him go, while feeling guilty and sad and one day it just stopped
Have you and DH got time to sit and play together? If she's anxious about you not being around, she will not be able to be relaxed when left with him. It will pass though.
DS was really clingy with me and would be utterly distraught if I wasn't in his sights. Then, from around the age of 6, he realised how much fun DH was and I didn't get a look in!
He's 14 now and has learnt how to work us both for maximum advantage to himself .
Stop blaming yourself. You did not "cause" her anxiety and by taking responsibility for her emotions you are perpetuating the problem. You blame yourself and become anxious about her, she picks up on your anxiety and becomes anxious. You blame yourself more and become even more anxious. Etc.
She wasn't ready for nursery. You didn't lock her in a cupboard for a weekend with a fierce Alsatian, you sent her to a place most kids love.
Totally agree with others - stop blaming yourself. You are a loving, caring mother who is simply trying to do the best for your children like we all are.
Your 'mistake' wasn't catastrophic, nor even necessarily a mistake.
Loads of kids, mine included, go through this clingy stage and only want their mothers. One of mine did under different circumstance, for about 2 years he only wanted me and it was very hard all round especially as I worked full time.
It will work itself out and you will look back and say 'oh god remember that little phase when dd only wanted me?'. Will be a dim and distant memory.
My recomendation would be to just keep loving her and being there when she needs you. Children should outgrow us and pull away of their own volition not be pushed towards the next stage because of some idea of how a three year old "should" be. Be the solid foundation she needs and she will take those steps to independency when she is ready.
As an aside, one of my children has a language delay/disorder and it is very common when this is the case for children to need more parental input at preschool. The world is a muddled unfathomable place for even the most verbose child. For those that struggle, even a little more than the norm, it can be overwhelming without their translator.
Be kind and let her take her time. You are growing an oak tree not a runner bean, and time taken now will stand her in good stead for a lifetime.
I think you need to set some boundries like insisting that daddy gets her up in the morning sometimes - iv found that warning the night before helps but you need to leave daddy to deal with her in the morning. This also doesn't mean she won't be ready for nursery in September next year.
My dd1 went through a phase of being extremely clingy to me and had terrible separation anxiety around the age of 2.5/3. My cm assured me it was a normal phase.
I had to go to work so had different circumstances than you, but dd would cry so sore when I left her with the cm or with her gran, when previously she had barely acknowledged me leaving. It was heart wrenching. She would cling to my leg and beg me not to go.
It was awful but it was a phase which she outgrew in a few weeks. She followed me all round the house if we were at home too. At that point I didn't have dd2 so it was easier for me to deal with that.
I think all you can do is take the time to play with her, sit with her and explain to her that when mummy leaves, mummy is coming back. It will pass.
And I agree with the others, you were not to blame. It is probably a combination of age, having a new sibling and starting nursery. Not one in particular.
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