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Is it just separation anxiety?

(11 Posts)
NicknameAlreadyTaken Wed 17-Sep-08 14:21:26

My DD is nearly 8mo now. It all started when she was around 5mo or even earlier.
Crying in friends' houses as soon as we enter the house, crying when strangers attempt to speak to her, whining/crying when DH tries to comfort her. When we are visiting friends from antenatal group (usually once a week), DD will at first cry whenever someone speaks to her and whine all the time gripped on to my arm and not letting me put her down. Then after an hour or so she will get a bit more calm and mostly won't cry when spoken to, but still won't play for long and will be constantly turning away from the toys and crawling to me and gripping on (i will sit right beside her) and whining again.

Is it all just separation anxiety?
Or is there anything else I should be worried about?

And how can I help her to be more relaxed when we are visiting someone? I'd like her to play and communicate with her peers and other people but so far it's been more of a stress rather than fun for both of us.

I myself have a degree of social anxiety (not diagnosed) and also was feeling pretty bad for about 3-4 months postpartum (PND?).
Can that have affected and still be affecting DD's behaviour?


nolongerchunkybutstillapudding Wed 17-Sep-08 20:56:42

oh hon i don't think you should worry that it's your fault (we all do though don't we... know i have been!)

i'm sorry i don't have any wisdom but clicked on this because my ds (8 mo) seems to be suffering crazy separation anxiety at the mo and its driving me mad...

aaaarrrgh he's just woken up and is crying for me AGAIN so i'll have to go, will write more later....

you are not alone in this, believe me xx

pudding25 Wed 17-Sep-08 21:15:28

Sounds pretty common. I am dreading going back to work in Jan. DD will be nearly 8mths and already refuses to go to anyone apart from me or DH!

domesticslattern Wed 17-Sep-08 21:18:34

Ah, poor little bean. And poor you.

I do think this is not especially unusual. I know a baby the same age like this and his mother is very sociable and no depression. To be honest, it really won't get you anywhere wondering what might have affected your DD's behaviour and if it was your PND or what. That way just lies beating yourself up repeatedly!

I am not sure that I have tips beyond trying to relax as much as possible and not "make a thing of it". Otherwise maybe your DD will pick up on your anxieties and it will turn into a vicious circle.

It is more that she will look to you for reassurance and you smile and laugh and show that other people are lovely. I spend a lot of time saying to my DD in a sing-song voice "Say hello to the nice lady!" etc. I don't really expect her to play on her own for very long in someone else's house, rather she sits alongside me and we chat and play together.

Also, at 8 months she won't be "playing or communicating with her peers", I don't think. Unless my nine month old is missing something.

Hope this gets better soon.

mytetherisending Wed 17-Sep-08 21:41:15

I think some degree of reservedness/shyness and anxiety is completely normal, especially given that you have that trait. Personality really starts to develop at this age and if she picks up on your anxiety in a situation, or that you are not happy/relaxed then she will sense it and make associations between that situation and others. i.e. you feel anxious in a friends house then go somewhere else, by then your LO has associated visiting other houses as negative or anxiety provoking. This happens with obvious situations like a parent fears the dentist, child senses the parents fear and also becomes frightened iyswim.

I am not saying that it always happens, just that it can.

I found that not taking a child from the person they are crying at makes them realise that there is nothing to fear. I would just say 'you're fine' 'its ok' and smile. Try to do it with people who are confident handling babies though, not someone who can't deal with it and gets stressed. My dd2 screamed at DH from birth but I never took her off him until she had calmed down, unless she needed feeding and that was the cause iyswim. She is now perfectly happy with him.
I also used to pass her round all my mum friends for a cuddle from the start so she sees new people as normal.
I think psychologists call it desensitisation. PND can also affect interaction (not harmful unless really severe), the baby picks up on your moods and if you feel constantly sad (as I did for the first 9mths of dd1s life) the smiles are less frequent and appear false because you don't feel them iyswim. Babies can detect false emotions and makes them feel uneasy. There was a programme about childrens behaviour with a mum with severe PND and they found that baby and mum had far less eye contact, if you don't smile with your eyes as well as your mouth the baby knows its false.
Again, none of these can be helped, it just happens with PND. Now I would concentrate on eye contact, smiling lots, passing baby round others and appearing undeterred if she cries, it will pass. Reassure, but don't remove from the source of fear iyswim.

Thankyouandgoodnight Wed 17-Sep-08 21:52:31

Yep mine did this for months and then grew out of it suddenly. Don't worry, 'be there' as required and before you know it, it will be a distant memory!

mytetherisending Wed 17-Sep-08 21:57:38

I agree that babies don't usually play 'with' each other until about 2, just along side each other iyswim. smile I also should have said don't beat yourself up about how she is, like someone else pointed out, any baby at this age does this because they are more aware that they are not part of you iyswim. If you appear relaxed/confident she will follow your lead.

NicknameAlreadyTaken Thu 18-Sep-08 10:38:38

thanks for your comments and support!

by saying that i want my DD to play with her peers I didn't mean real play for now of course, more of looking, touching, hanging around together, etc.

When I'm visiting someone, I don't normally pass her to anyone as she's gripping on to me all the time, so she cries even when people speak to her and she's in my arms. I don't try to immediately take her away from the person who speaks to her, just try to comfort her. And mostly we are visiting friends from antenatal group, so they all have babies of the similar age and are absolutely confident with handling babies and dealing with them.
When we enter the house I try to wave hi with her hand to everyone as that is likely to make her feel more at ease to start with. And that often works. So, probably need to do something similar when people approach her to speak. As mentioned by domesticslattern, something like "nice lady is asking you how you are doing...", thanks for this tip!

As for DH, I tried letting her stay with him even when she starts crying, but she will keep looking around for me and will be either crying harder or at least not stopping, won't get distracted by toys and other things that would normally distract or calm her down. And I just can't leave her crying like that. sad Sometimes it feels like she's been crying for ages and immediately i can't see her that upset for any longer iykwim although in reality it can be just a couple of minutes. Sometimes they go to another room where I can't hear them (or when i leave her with DH and go take a shower and don't hear them) she can continue whining for quite long without caming down and then, as soon as I show up, will be jumping out of her clothes towards me.

So, to summarise, I need to work on my own anxiety to feel more relaxed when visiting friends and also use all means of communicating this relaxed approach to DD. And hopefully we'll both be fine.
Unfortunately it's going to ba a hard thing for me to do, so i might consider speaking to my GP about my social anxiety (which itself is going to be tough grin), but that's a different matter altogether.

LittleOneMum Thu 18-Sep-08 10:49:55

My DS (now one) was exactly the same. It drove me to distraction, I have to say. At first I tried to get him through it by not taking him away immediately and so on, to get him used to the situation but to be honest it didn't work. A friend of mine told me that I shouldn't force it, so I stopped trying to and that worked. I just let him cling on to me, if he got too bad I would leave and so on. And eventually he realised that sometimes other people could be fun (I think he was just bigger and felt less vulnerable). Now he will smile at people a bit more and play with strangers, always making sure that I am around! Best of luck. I know how hard it is.

Pheebe Thu 18-Sep-08 13:39:28

Some great advice here. I'd just add that in situations when visitng someones house or at a playgroup or whatever, try sitting on the floor with her. This might give her the confidence to play 'around' you knowing you're within easy reach. Worked really well with ds1 who went through a limpet stage at about the same age.

It does sound like classic separation anxiety. At about 89 months they suddenly begin to be aware of the world and how it affects them and its scary. just ride it out. Exude confidence on her behalf and she'll find her way through it

mytetherisending Thu 18-Sep-08 21:36:58

NAT- now that you know what you need to do you are on your way there smile Try not to worry, it will get better with age. smile

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