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Anyone any experience of boosting security of 4-year-old who fears abandonment?

(3 Posts)
piecesofeight Sun 21-Sep-08 22:55:43

DS (4) has been through a lot in the past couple of years, mostly with respect to mine and XP's relationship. It's taken its toll on us all, and just a handful of things seem to have created a persisting fear of abandonment in him.

The biggest contributing incident I can think of and that he can remember was my taking time out for me in the car just before he turned three. We were going through major strains at home, and then DS hit me round the face when I'd said "no" to something. It was the straw that broke the camel's back, and I prised him off me and then off the front door - so I could close it behind me blush sad - so I could sit in the car for a few minutes and calm down. I never intended to drive anywhere, and didn't start the ignition - but he didn't know that. DS wasn't alone: his dad was still in the house, napping, but DS may not have realised this. I remember seeing him distraught through the glass of the front door, and I lasted all of about 10 seconds before running in to hug him. But he remembers this and, for a while, if he heard me pop into the porch for something or jangle my car keys, he would run up to me, anxious that I was leaving.

He was playing up at bedtime tonight, so I said I wouldn't stand for it and went up to the lounge to calm down - and he thought I was leaving again.

I HATE it that this has happened. I know that we've been going through a really tough time and that I have done my best in the circumstances, but it's no comfort really, knowing now that DS doesn't feel very secure nor that he can depend on me to stick around. DS is very attached to me, to the point where other people sometimes raise an eyebrow at the difficulty he has separating.

DS has also started to say - only very occasionally, when cross and being more than a bit dramatic - that he wants to kill himself. Most of me thinks that this is 4-year-old, out-of-context dramatising when emotions are running high - he is a happy, skipping, singing child a lot of the time. But still I worry.

Is there anything I can do - bar the obvious lots of reassurance that I'm staying around - to bolster DS's sense of security and self-worth? I don't want him to be scarred by the instability in his life over the past few years, and hope to improve this situation while DS is still "malleable".

TIA.

magso Mon 22-Sep-08 10:09:00

I am sorry you and your son have had such a difficult time. You sound like a very thoughtful mum, but try not to blame yourself.
I am sure you are right to give your son lots of reassurance. Notice and comment when together to build his self esteme.
Can you do fun things together that will build trust and confidence like holding him whilst he learns to swim/skate/ balance on a 2 wheel bike/paddle a boat/ climb trees/tight rope walk? (apologies if these are not age appropriate my only child has sn so is a bit unique!)I have used a timer to help my son understand that I will come back. I started out using a timer to help him adapt to short periods of no attention, but now I also use it when I need time out myself - to regain my composure! He still rushes to the door when he hears keys rattle but I think this is more a 'dont leave me out' response not an inscure response.
Also has he just started school? Has that rocked his world?
I am sure other wiser people will be along soon. Didn't want to leave your post unanswered!

HonoriaGlossop Mon 22-Sep-08 10:51:11

I think you just need to accept that he does have these worries, and it's understandable and natural that he does; he's experienced a split family situation and seems to remember your 'leaving' that time. I think the main thing you can do is just accept he WILL worry, and be a little insecure - obviously as a mum you want to make it all better for him but I think only time can do that really. He just needs some more life experience with the new life situation really - if the 'leaving' incident occured when he was two it's highly unlikely IMO that he will remember it forever....

just keep on being there and I'm sure he will adjust.

If this was me I might try and have an 'agreed' place where you or he go to calm down, so that when you feel at the end of your tether and want to walk out of the room, he KNOWS where you're going. So rather than "I'm not standing for this" and going out, it could be that you say "I need to be in the comfy chair" so that he knows a)he's pushing it and b) you're not going anywhere!

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