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Anxiety and spitting/holding saliva in mouth - driving me crazy!

(11 Posts)
AJ65 Mon 09-Jun-14 14:47:02

My daughter is 8 years old and seems to be happy and secure, but recently she has been driving me a bit crazy with questions about dangers in the world, ie 'what would happen if you swallowed/touched/licked this or that thing' accompanied by a new spitting / holding saliva in her mouth habit.

What can I do?

I've talked to her on various occassions, reassuring her that she is safe and secure and that her father and I would never expose her to anything dangerous.

I've asked her if there's anything bothering her at school, but these seem to be minor concerns with girls she has issues with and we've talked about ways to handle various situations.

I've explained that spitting is dirty and that holding saliva in her mouth makes it hard for her to speak clearly. I don't think it's a medical thing, it's some kind of control thing.

I try not to let on how frustrated I am becoming by this whole thing because I don't want her to hide the behaviour from me; I want to keep communication open, but I'm really starting to worry about her.

She knows she shouldn't hold saliva in her mouth and/or spit, but it's as if she can't help herself and I'm getting worried that other kids will notice and that will only increase any problems she may be experiencing.

She has friends at school and out of school, she has 2-3 play dates a week and seems to be averagely popular.

Any clues as to what's going on or what I should do???

MrsWinnibago Tue 10-Jun-14 13:54:28

To begin with are you certain she's not got any dental issues or a blocked saliva gland?

I would say 2 to 3 playdates a week is a lot! Mine have maybe that many per half term! Mainly because I don't drive and I work....but perhaps she needs more time at home or with you alone?

whatsonyourplate Tue 10-Jun-14 21:48:52

I had a friend who used to do this. I think she'd been told she shouldn't swallow phlegm, and had confused the issue. I'm not sure how it was resolved in the end though.

AJ65 Wed 11-Jun-14 10:09:55

Thanks for your replies MrsWinnibago and whatsonyourplate.

When I think about it, it's more like 2 play dates a week usually; 1 after school and another at the weekend. We spend a lot of time together. I work part time so I can pick her up from school 3 days a week and we spend a lot of time together; if I didn't I might not have noticed this behavior.

I've asked her if it's something that 'just happens' that she can't control - worried about some medical condition - but she doesn't think so. She seems to know that she can control it and doesn't know why she doesn't. I've explained that other people will find it unpleasant and that holding spit in her mouth affects her ability to communicate.

We had a long talk last night and I asked if it was to do with losing her grandfathers (my Dad and my husband's father died within a few months of each other in 2012). It seems to have something to do with that. Fears about losing loved ones. I reassured her that me and her Dad are strong and healthy and that we'll be there for her for a long long time. That seemed to help.

But then this morning I realised she was holding saliva in her mouth again as we walked to school and she couldn't talk properly...

I've told her that if she can't control it herself - with reassurance and support from us - I will have to take her to the doctor to see if there is a medical problem.

She's so smart and funny and delightful and I'm terrified of this becoming a blight on her little life.

MrsWinnibago Wed 11-Jun-14 10:24:22

I don't think it will blight her....I have two DDs and one of them is 9...she's prone to doing "odd" things too...little habits. For instance when she was a bit younger she used to pick her ear...until it scabbed. I had to poke her gently every time she did it and say "No!" and she stopped after a while. She also used to do a weird thing with her fingers...again, I used to say "No" every time.

I think they're still getting to know their bodies and learn that they can control them...and they sometimes get an odd sort of comfort from these little habits and the control it gives them.

Can I suggest that you look at her daily life and how much control she has over her routine and environment....if she hasn't got much then perhaps try to change something. Asking her if she'd like to alter the look of her room might give her a new focus and a new perspective on sounds trite but they do appreciate having control over stuff like that...I would ask her what she'd like to alter and maybe involve her in redecorating it.

If her room is not in need of change or funds won't allow, look at a new hobby she might enjoy...gymnastics or martial arts teach self control and could be good for her.

AJ65 Wed 11-Jun-14 11:07:57

Thanks MrsWinnibago - I say 'swallow' to her when she's holding saliva and 'breath' to remind her to take deep breaths in and breath out slowly to calm herself. We can't decorate her room right now, but I have been helping her to get it into better order and let go of some of her older (baby) toys and games.

She loves her gymnastics classes and there isn't' really time to introduce another class at the moment (she goes to Art Club and Gymnastics), but we are looking into skating lessons and learning guitar in the autumn.

Part of what's bothering her is that our main bathroom (which is right next to her room) is a shell while we're held up redoing it and I'm hoping some of the anxiety will level off once that's been completed. Then we'll do the spare room so that she can sleep there while we redo her room!

I've been looking around on the interwebs some more and have found a few potentially useful books, like 'Freeing Your Child from Anxiety' and 'What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety (What to Do Guides for Kids)' so I'll make a decision and order a couple later today.

Thanks again. It's hard to talk to my husband about this as he suffers from anxiety himself and tends to overreact and get a bit aggressive in his approach which I don't find helpful. I've pointed out that no-one ever got over anxiety by being told off, but it makes no difference; when he's anxious he can't really hear me.

MrsWinnibago Wed 11-Jun-14 11:35:56

I've been helping my DDs to make little fairy houses which we then put in the garden...we use old milk cartons! I cut in doors and windows and they put "furniture" in made out of lids and scrap fabric...then they leave notes in them at bedtime on a friday evening with their little worries...or just news...and in the morning the fairies have left something behind and taken the worry or news away with them.

I put a sweet in...they love it and it helps them to think the worries are gone...I am sure the older DD knows it's me...she's cracking on for ten after all but she plays along and really enjoys it....

fairy houses

Re your DH mine is a bit of a grumpy sod at times and also tends to shout sometimes...I got very stern with him recently and told him that children are little for SUCH a short time and they need complete peace and love at all times no matter what they're guilty of. He's rethinking his approach and doing much better.

AJ65 Wed 11-Jun-14 12:06:46

Don't know if it will help with the anxiety, but I love the fairy house project - she has a fairy garden on the terrace and a little house would be a great addition.

Re my DH - must remember to talk to him about anxiety issues when he's in a good space and receptive!

Thanks again x

mommakandy Sat 27-Dec-14 17:04:47

Have you found any answers to this? I'm having same problem with my 7 yr old daughtER and it's driving me nuts! In Oct I took her to a viewing at a funeral home when my nieces grandpa died. I think that has some thng to do with it. The day before Thnksgiving, she was crying telling me she didn't want me, or grandma to ever die because she would miss us. Then on Thanksgiving day, she got sick with stomach flu. For.2 weeks! I think the anxiety made the stomach bug worse. She kept thinking she needed surgery, and I took her to the ER 4 times wither that 2 weeks. She woukd cry of chest pain, tickle in throat, bone popping in throat, headaches. When she got better she started find any little pain to complain and freak out about. She flipped when she was biting her nail and accidentally swallowed it. Well she's still freaking over any little thing she can think of, and 2 weeks ago she started holding her spit in her mouth. She also spits on the floor when no one is looking. I have to tell her "swallow your spit!" I'm afraid kids are gonna make fun oof her when they see her doing that. 2 weeks ago she also started saying sometimes she can't tell if she's awake or if she's in a dream. She woukd cry because she said she was afraid she wasn't gonna wake out of it one morning. Well I took her to her ped, and all they said is she needs to see a child psychologist.

stressbucket1 Sat 27-Dec-14 22:20:37

I think she does need to see a psychologist the dream thing sounds very much like an anxiety issue I have experienced this myself. I have felt as if I am in a dream and don't know what is real I now know as an adult it is an involuntary reaction to anxiety. Knowing this has helped me. Maybe you could explain to her that she feels this way because she is worried and it will pass?

I don't think there is an overnight fix to this she obviously has a big issue about death and finds that overwhelming worrying.

OneInEight Sun 28-Dec-14 06:41:15

There is a book called "What to do when you worry too much" which would be good for her age. Personally, I would not say you will stop anything bad happening because you can't and when something happens like this it will be all the more devastating. We try and take the worries seriously but point out that they have not happened before so they are unlikely to happen this time. For the nervous habits we try and ignore as much as possible as the more attention we put on them the more entrenched they seem to get. ds2 went through an awful phase of sucking things but luckily it has mostly passed.

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