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Can separation anxiety in 5yo be treated in any way?

(17 Posts)
olivo Tue 28-Jun-11 20:45:51

D is nearly 5 and is, I'm sure, suffering from separation anxiety. She is a sensitive child, but since she started school this year, we have had real problems with leaving her anyhere and recently, it has spilled over into night times and we are not getting any sleep.
SHe hates being left at school, although she adores school and has some lovely friends, I have to stay at parties, and at night, she is up up to 7 times a night to check I'm there - either shouting for me or coming in. we have tried everything from bribery to consequence, medication to alternative treatments, but still she hasnt slept a whole night for ages. I am exhausted, working full time and looking after her and her little sister.

is there anything that can be done about separation anxiety in older children?

crispyseaweed Tue 28-Jun-11 20:49:19

Personally I am not sure, it sounds like you have tried nearly everything. All I can suggest is lots of hugs and cuddles and kisses and verbal reassurance that you love her very very much. Praise when you can and let her know that you think she is fabulous and loved.
She will grown out of all this , so try not to get annoyed and impatient. I know how hard that is ............

olivo Tue 28-Jun-11 20:59:15

thanks crispyseaweed. we do try to be patient, we are aware that she is very young in her year, and that she has coped very well with full time school - her reports are excellent, but it is hard when we havent slept for nearly 4 months. I also have a clingy DD2! grrrr!

BenWhite Wed 29-Jun-11 10:12:39

Hi Olivo,

Have you tried role reversal? Next time she goes to leave the room, make a huge (I mean really huge) deal about how you don't want her to leave and how you're worried about what things might happen to her when you're not there to look after her and protect her.

Really ham and egg it up. Make up crazy scenarios and go over the top. Get emotional about it, cuddle up to her and hang on to her. Beg, plead and get upset (sad). You should find that she will get all protective and maternal on you and this will normally lead to a change in her separation issues elsewhere. This approach made a huge change for me and my dd when I have to hand her back to her mum and we have a much better and closer relationship as a result and she now comforts me when we have to say goodbye saying how she'll see me and come and stay with me really soon and that I'm not to worry.

Try it and let us know how you get on.

olivo Wed 29-Jun-11 10:56:30

thank you, this sounds like a really good idea, we havent treid anything like it. Watch this space!

faverolles Wed 29-Jun-11 11:58:37

We went through something like this with dd. The only thing we did that made a difference was to go with it.
We didn't even attempt to leave her anywhere for a while, and brought her mattress into our room so at the very least she could get used to sleeping through.
We accepted that we needed to be with her at parties. Her teacher came up with strategies to help her settle in every morning at school without crying.
We did have quite a bit of opposition to this - several people told us we were pandering to her whims and making it worse, but from my point of view, forcing her to do something she clearly wasn't ready to do wasn't going to make her confidence issues better, so by taking as many of the problem areas out of the equation, she was more confidant knowing that we were there for her.
She had a major relapse when her grandmother died (she was 7), and refused to go anywhere without me. We went back to square 1 for a while, and I believe that helped her through it all, and she's all the more confidant now for it.
Sorry, that was quite long!

Tgger Wed 29-Jun-11 16:51:26

Hi there,
I completely understand the stuff during the day-time and I would say yes stay at parties and do all you can to reassure her etc.

HOWEVER, night-time in my book is a different kettle of fish and I think this waking up and needing you behaviour can just become habitual and needs stopping as soon as possible so that everyone gets a better nights sleep and is in a better mood and more able to cope with the day.

I would have one or two chats about how important sleep is and how everyone wakes up and just needs to go back to sleep by themselves. Then I would have a strategy of gradual withdrawal from the behaviour you have been doing during the night. Does she have a special teddy who can "look after her"? I can see you have been doing different strategies, but maybe a version of controlled crying for 5 year olds, giving little attention when returning her to bed? Ignoring the crying and protests if necessary. This might seem harsh, but I would think of short term pain for lots of long term gain.

olivo Wed 29-Jun-11 20:34:08

thank you both, faverolles, it is good to hear your DD seemed to get through it We do stay at parties, no real hassle but not great for dD2 to be dragged around to them ( 2 a weekend at the moment !). we have wondered about one of us sleeping in with her for a bit - her beinbg overtired cant help.
Tgga, I have never done controlled crying but we have DD2 to consider - there have been times wh nwe have left DD1 to herself but she inevitably wakes up dd2 and then it is double trouble. I gave her a specialk 'magic crystal' that woudl protect her but no help. We dont have any verbal communication when she wakes, she really does just want to see me. there is no doubt though, that it is now a habit. the scary thing is, that she is waking on the nights we give her the sedative we were prescribed for her.

Tgger Wed 29-Jun-11 21:19:22

I recommend a book, "Teach your child to sleep", Millpond sleep clinic. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Teach-Your-Child-Sleep-Childhood/dp/0600613453. (sorry for amazon plug, just easy to reference).

It gives really good sensible advice on all sorts of sleep problems from experts who have seen it all. Takes the emotion out of them, (whilst being very understanding) and gives different strategies for dealing with different problems according to child's age, parent's temperament etc etc.

Of course you have DD2 to consider, but if the problem is long-standing, it is surely worth ruffling a few feathers for a short time for long time gain- the book also gives strategies with how to deal with a problem that can affect other siblings waking up etc.

Good luck!

olivo Thu 30-Jun-11 20:03:28

thanks Tgger , i will have a look. Me and amazon are good riedns...grin

olivo Thu 30-Jun-11 20:03:56

ahem ...."friends" I blame the lack of sleep!

LeninGrad Thu 30-Jun-11 20:21:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheSnickeringFox Thu 30-Jun-11 20:27:53

Love bombing?

The Oliver James parenting technique of course, not the Children of God cult-indoctrination technique wink

olivo Sat 02-Jul-11 19:43:48

no other concerns - she is shy in new situations, but interacts well with her peers, loves school, has a strong group of friends, is happy on the whole. Just wants me there all the time. Probably much worse since the arrival of D2 but even so, DD2 is nearly 2 and this sleep thing only started in Feb.

not heard of love bombing - should i google or will it be dodgy?!?

Tgger Sat 02-Jul-11 21:36:03

TheSnickeringFox will prob explain better, but love-bombing is a technique Oliver James suggests to help children who have been through/are going through some difficulties/insecurites/anxieties/stress/low confidence.

I think it is something like you give them loads and loads more cuddles and physical contact than normal and basically "bomb" them with love.

TheSnickeringFox Sat 02-Jul-11 22:44:56

Hi, this is taken from a web chat James had on <whisper it> NM blush.

A: I do briefly describe in my present book a fab solution to this, which is going to be the title of my next book: 'Love Bombing'. In essence, this is what you do:

Take the child away from the rest of the family for a weekend, two nights.
Tell the child repeatedly that you love them, making sure to hug them and look them in the eyes for long periods.
Sleep with them in your bed at nights, during the day tell them that this is their special time and that you will do whatever they want.
On return to normal life, create a 30 minute slot each evening with a label they have chosen, like ‘mummy time’, in which you repeat the same formula in condensed form.

As far as I can see he uses it for a variety of issues, separation anxiety being just one. Am aware btw that he is somewhat controversial and this will either work for you or it won't!

olivo Sun 03-Jul-11 19:59:11

that's an interesting idea - i could see how it could. unfortunately, I could not leave DD2 for 2 days, and I can't manage a 30 min slot with DD1 every night blush - God ,how crap am I? there just isnt enough time in the day. i grab as much time as I can with just her on her own but by the time we're back from after school club, work, tea, baths and DD2 bed, it's her bedtime!

will, however, check this man out! thanks.

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