Could my health anxiety be causing DS to play up to it?(3 Posts)
I have some unresolved issues from my own childhood. Mainly that I was left alone/ignored by parents during times when I was very ill/injured from age 2-16. It's caused me to have some attachment problems.
I've also developed health anxiety about my own DC. I find symptoms and signs that other people don't see. A particularly bad time for me was when I broke my leg at age 5, and my parents said there was nothing wrong with me. It only got detected at school and I got taken to hospital.
Anyway, ds (22mo) has now started going around pointing at his leg and saying "ouch ouch." He does this especially before bed. He doesn't know the story of what happened to me, but obviously it is very triggering for me when he says this and I become obsessive about trying to check if he's okay.
When he is ill, like has a cold, I feel a compulsion to sleep with him so he doesn't feel alone. And if I put him to bed and walk in, in the morning and he has vomited in the night, I feel overwhelming guilt and like an awful, awful mother for not being with him.
I don't know if he is picking up on my anxiety or not. All I know is that I spend most days anxious about symptoms I feel my DC are displaying, and the more attention I pay to ds', the worse and more frequent they seem get.
DH says he is picking up on my fear. I think it is either that, or he has noticed how I've reacted when he coughs, or gags or points to his leg and says "hurts" and has realised that it keeps me around and gives him a lot of attention.
Also sometimes he falls over, cries and runs to me, but I've been watching him and he hasn't tripped or been going fast. It's like he has done it deliberately. But even saying that makes me feel terrible and makes me think I am just like my own parents.
I don't know want to do. I can't tell the difference between the symptoms my anxiety is seeing, the symptoms DS knows work on me, and the real symptoms.
What can I do?
I think you should speak to your GP and perhaps ask for CBT and look at getting your anxiety sorted. It sounds like you do have genuine reasons for your anxiety and to me it seems like that is what you need to address. Children will pick up on any ways to get your attention and keep you on a tight lease. Getting special treatment for behaving in a particular seems like a gold mine to them.
Once you can (no disrespect meant by this) think rationally you will be in a better frame of mind, to work out if the behaviour is that of attention seeking or an genuine reason.
I think it's very likely that he's picked up on your reaction to him saying he's hurt or ill and is doing it to get you to give him that attention. (My DS often tells me he's feeling poorly when he wants a hug, then is happily crashing round the house five minutes later.) But think of it this way - he's doing it because your reaction is to give him attention and love, the opposite to your own parent's approach, so it's doing him no harm - those are positive things.
If it's distressing you though, then I agree that getting some help with your anxiety might be a good idea, because you'll need to change the way you react to him to be more matter-of-fact, and that's hard when it's making you very anxious.
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