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Anxious 4 year old - how to help?

(7 Posts)
ComeTalkToMe Mon 20-Jun-16 13:02:07

My 4 year old DD is starting to display real signs of anxiety and I want to be able to help her.

To give some background, she is 4.5 coming to the end of nursery which finishes soon for summer here in Scotland and has a younger brother, who has just turned 2. My husband works away Monday to Friday and I work 4 days a week in a relatively stressful job.

She has started to become very distressed when having to go into nursery although they say she is fine when she's there. She talks about it at night, crying and saying she just wants to be with me or her grandma during the day.

As well as school nursery she attends a private nursery 1.5 days a week, she was supposed to take part in a graduation thing there on Friday but wouldn't as she became upset and clingy. We just got her to watch. She now has another event of this type at her school nursery planned and is becoming very anxious about it.

She has always been quite clingy but it's gone into over drive at the moment and is stopping her doing more and more things eg joining in at parties, playing with friends when they're round etc. I really feel for her especially when she gets upset at night, I think she is affected by her daddy working away which won't be forever but has to be done as that's where his job has taken him.

Has anyone been through similar? I would really appreciate any advice on how to help her... Many thanks

Cguk81 Mon 20-Jun-16 13:46:56

Sorry to hear your DD is going through this. You might find this article helpful
Is it just recently that your partner has started working away? Any other family upsets or changes? Will she be going to school after the summer?

I think it's really important to acknowledge her concerns when she talks about them or displays anxiety. Don't just try and reassure her that it will be okay and nothing to worry about. And it can be really helpful to come up with a plan of action for how she will deal with any situations that cause her concern. Feeling she has some control over situations may help the anxiety.

ComeTalkToMe Mon 20-Jun-16 20:39:48

Thanks cguk81 my husband has worked away for nearly two years now, I'm sure it is affecting her as she talks about it often. No other major changes but lot of little things related to starting school after summer. I do and will continue to try to acknowledge her fears... Thans

Justmeagain78 Wed 22-Jun-16 07:36:54

I work at a preschool and every year at this time several children will start displaying signs of anxiety before the transition to school ie clinginess, wetting themselves or being "naughty". They know there's a big change coming and feel overwhelmed. Keep her at the nursery but don't make her do anything she doesn't want to do like the ceremonies. She just needs extra reassurance now and maybe some visits to the new school to meet her new teacher will make it all less daunting and help her feel a little more in control.

Ditsy4 Wed 22-Jun-16 07:54:03

Ask him to leave something with her to "look after" perhaps a hanky with some of his aftershave on it. It could be the combination of daddy being away and people talking about "big school." My husband works away and I had this at various times of our lives. As they grow there understanding grows and sometimes puts new fears for them. I would try and have time for some physical activity after school and ensure a relaxing time before an earlier bed time. Even if she is just resting with books and lots of cuddles. I would keep off the subject of school for a while.
Agree with Just Me a chance to meet the teacher and visit but not too much emphasise on school otherwise.

needtomovesomewherewarmer Wed 22-Jun-16 10:22:39

My Ds is 4.5 also and due to start school in September. My husband works away intermittently but thankfully it's been 4 weeks or so since he was last away but it can be disruptive to mood especially my 2yo.

We are also due #3 in a week and although ds talks excitedly about both school and baby i think he is experiencing high anxiety also . We have seen a sudden change in his behaviour over the past 3-4 weeks as talk of both changes has increased. Lots of battles over control and major meltdowns over the smallest of things.

Telling him off just makes things worse and i can see how much he hsyes himsekf for foung it. He is so desperate for attention and reassurance. So I'm trying to do my best to remain calm and cut him some slack (even when the bed mattress comes tumbling down the stairs).

I find when he goes through these stages that extra one to one time goes a really long way. So, for example could you finish work early a couple of days and do something nice after nursery even for just an hour? Let her choose what you do? could be the park, cafe, a bus ride. It might even just be playing with her fav toy but with your focused attention. I would also say to try to get daddy to do this at the weekend? Just special time her and him? Make her feel really special. I find it kind of helps fill their emotiibal needs (or something like that) which in turn helps them deal with their anxieties or what ever they are going through, much better.

Have you got lots of possibilities to have contact with the new school? Ours has a few family fun days coming up which we are going to, just so that it stops being this big frieghtening unknown and becomes something familiar and less scary.

I think it must be very daunting starting school. They really have no frame of reference and suddenly everything is becoming big!!

kiki22 Wed 22-Jun-16 11:20:24

I'm in Scotland too finishing nursery next week on Wednesday I'm hoping 6 weeks together will stop the clingyness. Ds has been coming into our bed, not wanting to go to child minders, following me around for a few months we have a new baby due the same week as he starts P1 so all the change is upsetting him I think.

I've found just going with it works best, he obviously feels the need for extra attention so I'm just going with it and letting him cling when he wants to. I find of we have had a few days together it calms down he's seems more relaxed but if he has nursery then a play date or sleep over with gp the next day he's stuck to me like glue. I've been told some kids show their anxiety at starting school in the lead up instead of when they actually start it certainly seems to be the deal with ds.

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