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How much anxiety is normal for a 5 year old?

(7 Posts)
idril Mon 10-Jan-11 10:18:26

My son has just turned 5 and has always been fairly highly strung and prone to getting anxious about things.

He started school in September and although was OK at first is now very anxious about it and we have lots of tears about him not wanting to go. The main issue with school appears to be separation anxiety. He currently has anxiety issues about the following:

a)He says that he misses me when he has a "problem" at school and when he hurts himself.

b) He is worried about fire alarms at school because even though he knows it is probably a practice, it might be a real one and I am not there.

c) When there was the swine flu pandemic in 2009 his pre-school started applying anti-bac gel to hands on the way in and they had a real emphasis on covering mouths when coughing etc and I assume they talked about germs a lot because that started him worrying about germs ALL the time. I've managed to get this under control now but it is still something he gets anxious about.

d) He has a total aversion to anyone different looking after him. I've worked 3 days a week since he was 8 months old. We started with a childminder then moved to a nanny. Our nanny is now pregnant and her maternity cover is starting next week. He knows her as it's a friend of our nanny but he had absolute meltdown last night when I told him that she would be looking after him after school on 3 days.

I've spoken to the school about him not wanting to go and they said he is basically happy there but there are occasional incidents where he bursts into tears about very minor things (e.g he dropped his straw from his milk on the floor) which suggests to me that he might have a kind of low-level anxiety all day making him prone to crying at the drop of a hat.

I'm really worried about him. Surely a 5 year old shouldn't be this anxious about everything? Or is it normal? If it's not normal would could/should I do about it?

mcv1 Mon 10-Jan-11 10:57:02

I know this isnt going to help you but i am so relieved to see your post.
My little boy is 4 and just started school,( in wales we start earlier) and although his anxieties are different to your little boy they sound very similar.
He is exactly the same about going to school he doesnt want to go, ( no particular reason) except he misses me.
He's ok while occupied but a few times during the day he will cry and ask for me.
He went to my mums on saturday as he has done since birth and is also doing the same there.( started bout 3 months ago)
He is a bit of a home body, when we are out together he announces he wants to go home after a short while.
And he likes to be home before dark no matter who he is with.
I work late once a week and he is home with daddy and gets upset if i am not home before dark ( although he is not scared of the dark). He too is a mummy's boy, if i am out in the week which is literally once, he goes to bed fine for daddy, but when i am home it has to be me that does everything for him from making him a drink to getting ready for bed.
I get told how i am too soft with him, how he is manipulating me, but to be honest i am glad to find your post because i want to know i am not alone and i hope that fact will help you too.
I have no practical advice just a shoulder if you need it.

Elk Mon 10-Jan-11 11:07:30

My dd1 was anxious in reception, she always used to take a long time to warm up to new situations. I used to give her a little token of 'mummy' to keep in her pocket so if she got upset during the day she could slip her hand in her pocket and touch it. We used a little passport photo mostly but also any other small thing she found in the house that reminded her of me.

She is in y3 now and although she still gets worked up before new things she is fine once they start.

PixieOnaLeaf Mon 10-Jan-11 11:18:01

Message withdrawn

idril Mon 10-Jan-11 12:31:14

Thanks for the reassurances. I really hope it gets better as he gets older.

I think I will speak to the school about it again I think.

I will also try the mummy token thing. I tried the mummy kisses thing but I think something tangible might work better.

Mcv1 - my son is exactly the same with regard to me having to do everything and like you I find it hard to strike a balance between being too soft and recognising that his feelings are genunine and that I am just meeting his needs. He has been particularly bad recently with being clingy to me which is just a result of him feeling anxious about school I think.

It is nice to know that we're not alone.

mcv1 Mon 10-Jan-11 13:09:16


i think too that although this is a genuine feeling that they have, Ryan plays on it, and makes the whole situation worse.
This morning on the way to school he was pleading with me "please mummy dont make me go" Although my hubbie supportive he doesnt understand the situation he thinks that ryan is just manipulating me. Its sooo hard not to just stop pick him up and say lets go home because after 2 hours of constant upset before school i really just want to cry myself.
I get advice from my mum, dad, hubbie, inlaws, but at the end of the day they are not here dealing with it and has never had to deal with a child who has been through it either. I hope this gets better.
I do like the little token of mummy, and will certainly give that a try. we can only hope it helps x

TrappedinSuburbia Mon 10-Jan-11 13:27:32

My ds was exactly like this in primary 1, he was one of the youngest as well so don't think this helped either. He told me he just walked around the playground himself crying at break times because he missed me, it was heartbreaking.

A year later and what a difference, much more confident and happy going to school. He still has the occasional wobble, eg, about a month ago the lid of his drink bottle got broken in his lunch bag and he was crying, but he knew to go up to the dinner lady and she put his juice in a cup for him. Incidents like this are few and far between now, I remember how heart wrenching it all was.

It will improve, it just takes time, its a massive transition for them going to school.

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