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Toddler anxiety after bereavement

(9 Posts)
Sgoinneal Thu 21-Jan-16 09:10:04

Hi, I'm looking for some advice about my DS. He's 2.7, and going through a phase of completely refusing to go to his nursery, not allowing us to dress or undress him and getting really hysterical on every occasion. I'm also five months pregnant (to avoid drip feed). He is happy enough about the baby, talks to my tummy and so on.

I lost my Dad at Christmas and DS knows he was unwell and had to go for a long sleep - we kept all discussions very factual and simple like this, but told him what we could without causing more distress. He still seems to be very unsure about leaving us - for obvious reasons. Is there something we can do to help him see that mum and dad aren't going away? It's a stressful time for everyone but I'm really worried about the effect on DS. Thanks flowers

kd83 Thu 21-Jan-16 11:11:06

Sorry I have no advice to offer, but that sounds tough.

Do you think it could just be a normal terrible-twos thing (my 2.3 yr old has suddenly developed an overenthisastic attachment to his quilt which is too big to take anywhere but he won't leave the house without) or do you think it is something more than that?

Coudl you talk to your HV?

justonesherryformedicinalpurpo Thu 21-Jan-16 11:17:51

Hi OP,

I'm sorry to here about your Dad flowers

I also don't have much advice to offer but I didn't want to read and run.

It's tricky because because of the age isn't it. Perhaps you could pick out a toy, game or book to play/read together and show him before he leaves and say "as soon as you're back from nursery we'll play this together.." that way you're talking about doing something that evening together making it hopefully clear that he will be seeing you after nursery.

I don't have much to suggest, I'm sorry.

ScarlettDarling Thu 21-Jan-16 11:20:43

Sorry for your loss. I lost my dad just before Christmas too, it's hard isn't it? My dc are older than yours, (8 and 11,)so it was obviously lots easier to explain to them.

The only thing that stood out to me in your post was the way you told your son that your dad went for a 'long sleep'. I know it's so hard to explain death to little ones, but could the idea of the long sleep be making him anxious? Maybe explaining that your dad was very ill and/or very old and his body just didn't work any more? Aargh, I don't know, it's so hard.

I think that a degree of separation anxiety is normal with little ones. With my own dc it did flare up at times and then die down again, often during times of change.

Just re read this post, sorry to be so uselessly unhelpful. This will pass though, these phases always do. I hope you're coping with the loss of your dad ok flowers

ScarlettDarling Thu 21-Jan-16 11:25:17

Oh, the story 'Owl babies' is lovely for reinforcing the message that mummies always come back. I taught in Reception for years and for the first couple of weeks of every year we would read this story every day to help reassure the little criers who were missing their mums.

I don't know if you know the story? The 3 owl babies wake up one night and their mummy is gone. They worry and worry and at last she comes back saying 'what's all the fuss, you knew I'd come back'. At that point Id always add the comment 'because mummies always come back!' and after a few reads, the children would eagerly join in with saying this! Could be worth a try?

Sgoinneal Thu 21-Jan-16 11:29:57

Thanks all flowers - I really appreciate all the suggestions.

Scarlett I'm sorry for your loss too. It is hard, and I did wonder if the long sleep thing had confused him - he actually came up with this himself as my dad had been very unwell and sleepy so we were always telling him he was sleeping. I might try being a bit more direct. We really didn't want to make up a story or anything so this seemed like a correct but not-too-blunt version if you see what I mean. A good thought though and I'll try talking to him about that.

kd83 it could well be and I am reading too much into it. He's always been attached to things by at the moment nothing is placating him, and he's never been much inclined to tantrums or screaming, but this could just be a new terrible twos thing.

Sgoinneal Thu 21-Jan-16 11:30:36

scarlett ordering that book now, sounds perfect. Thanks so much.

ScarlettDarling Thu 21-Jan-16 12:44:30

Really hope it helps.

ScarlettDarling Thu 21-Jan-16 12:47:36

Ooh, the other thing that worked with the little ones who didn't want to leave their mum was if Mum gave them something of hers to 'look after' for the day, that she could get back from them at home time. Just something small that they could keep in a pocket or something like a scarf that could be hung on their peg. It seemed to reinforce the message that mummy would definitely be back to collect them later.

Don't know if your son is too little for that, but anything is worth a try!

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