June 17, 2010,
E.M. asks from Wellesley Hills, MA on June 16, 2010
My 6 Year Old Is Very Attached to Me - Need Input
My 6 year old daughter is very attached to me. When she is at school or doing sports or playing at a friends she is fine. When I am in the picture she always wants to be near me. She wants me to be near her while she plays with her friends or at home. In some ways it is very much normal but most of the time if she expects that i am around, she gets anxious if i am not in view. If I go to a different level of the house, she gets upset or if i am volunteering at her school and helping or talking to others away from her, she gets anxious to the point where I cant volunteer. She says that she thinks that if i am not nearby that something bad will happen to me or that she will lose me. When I am out of the house and my husband is with the kids, she constantly asks when i will be home. My husband definitely feels very shut out from her. He is fabulous with both kids and is so creative and fun and is willing to do so many cool activities with the kids so that is not the issue. It just seems like she is "stuck" on mom. I know that its nice to be close to the kids but not to the point where it is anxiety provoking for her and she just cries and cries if she cant see me when she looks for me. I really want to help her work through this and i want her to feel comfortable knowing that its ok if i go downstairs in the house or if we are all at the playground that she should go run off and be with her friends and I will be there when she is done.
So What Happened?™
She has heard from her friends and some other cousins who are in the process of dealing with death so i am sure that is a factor. She hasnt had personal trauma but i know that has been on her mind and she has always been very concerned with stranger danger which we have taught her without trying to make her too afraid but she has expressed that as an issue - yet when i am not around like at school she is incredibly independent, resourceful, creative, and self sufficient -
C.C. answers from Grand Rapids on June 16, 2010
When I was a little girl I was extremely anxious. To the point of crying and hanging on my mom's legs when the school bus would come to get me (in the 2nd-4th grade), not being able to go play away from home at friends houses, etc. I now know that some of my other symptoms (stomach problems, heart palpitations, rapid breathing, crying) that I was probably having anxiety attacks. But, I think 98% of it was due to the fact that my parents were having a very difficult time in their marriage and they were very unaware of how aware I was of the situation and the incidents that occurred. I started having them again when I was in college, and then went to the doc's and was diagnosed and after I had my second baby had to be temporarily -only a few months-put on meds to control the attacks.
Was there a traumatic incident that she experienced? It may seem trivial to you; maybe you were unaware it even happened or it may look like a mountain compared to a molehill to a 6 year old. Mine were fights I heard my parents get in, an incident where I was approached by an older "friend" of the family, but not abused in any way. But I felt threatened and like he might do 'something', at my young age not knowing what it might be, but feeling very scared.
I don't want to scare you! It could just be a phase! With kids you never know sometimes. If it gets worse or if you see her personality change in any way, I would recommend taking her to visit her doc or talking to a therapist, even once or twice might do it. I wish someone would have really payed attention to all the different things I did when I was a kid. No one ever asked me why I did the things I did, my parents just were angered/frustrated by it and didn't try to figure out 'why'. Now that I'm grown and have talked to my doctor I've learned a lot. That depression and anxiety go hand in hand. For example it may be 80% depression/20%anxiety or 90%anxiety/10% depression. When my doc told me that I was surprised.
Anyhow, I wish you and your daughter the best!!
2 moms found this helpful
J.C. answers from Lake Charles on June 16, 2010
I asked this same question about a week ago. I have a five year old daughter that does the same thing. I got some good responses and I also googled Separation anxiety disorder and got lots of information from different sites!! I was so glad. It has been a week and we are working hard on it.
We started a new tradition for everytime I leave. We have a certain kiss and hang shake we do. That gets her in a good mood and she is less likely to worry about the leaving.
I started telling her way in advance what is going to happen. Like where I am going, where she will be and when I will be back. I don't give times because she doesn't know how to tell time. I say after you eat breakfast, play with your firends and take your nap, I will be at daycare to pick you up. And she is ok with that! As long as I don't spring it on her, she has adjusted. I just have to remember! And I never break my word to her about who will pick her up or when I will be there or anything! Trust is the key also!!
And I am trying not to get mad at her for hanging on me and such. That is the hard part. It aggravates me sometimes when I would have to say goodbye and give hugs 15 times before I leave and she still cries. I am not Exaggerating!!! It has been better this past week though. I am so glad!!
Best of luck!!
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D.H. answers from Indianapolis on June 16, 2010
My first question is, has someone she was very attached to died recently? Or has she seen on the news about a Mother being killed? Has this started fairly recent or going on for a long time? Ask her why she feels this way. There has to be a reason.......
You need to talk to her........tell her how wonderful it is to be so close, but, that you each have your own things that you need to do.......you as Mommy have many things to take care of and she has so much learning and growing to do....and sometimes that requires you to be apart, or on separate floors of the house or even different parts of the school.
She's young, so I don't know how much telling her that if something is going to happen, neither of you can stop it if it's meant to be......you would know if she would understand that or be able to put it in her language. Like when she falls and scraps her knee when you are there, you couldn't stop it, but you were still there.......understand?
If this doesn't work, you might want to get someone professional to talk to her to make sure it's just a normal concern and not something else.....it is probably just a stage, but if it goes on for months, then I would be concerned.......
She might feel you don't spend enough time with her......maybe you should have a girls night out or something........then see if that helps it at all......
Good Luck and hang in there.
2 moms found this helpful
L.O. answers from Boston on June 17, 2010
You mentioned anxiety so many times that I think your Mommy instinct has already told you - the issue may not be a Mommy attachment but helping her deal with anxiety. I would recommend you find some books on anxious children - it will give you some "cognitive behavior therapies" - fancy name for just saying some tips and tricks for her to learn to deal with anxiety. Suppose she were anxious about monsters - you'd teach her ways to comfort herself. Same with a Mommy anxiety. Kids/people who are anxious can't help that they get anxiety-driven thoughts - you can't control what your brain thinks any more than you can control what commercial comes on t.v.. Tell her that's okay. But what she CAN control is how to switch the channel. When she thinks "What if something bad happens because I can't see Mommy" - she can't stop that thought. But you can help her to see that it's just a crazy thought - nothing will happen - and the more she tries to let her brain justify such thoughts, the more she will worry. We say there is a "brain bug" - everyone has one - but for some people they are more active and cause you to worry about different things. You "feed" the brain bug by answering its worry questions. The more you feed it, the more active it gets. You make it wither and get weak by not answering its questions and telling it that it's a stupid thought and to just go away. At 6 years old, your daughter is able to understand that she doesn't WANT to feel these feelings and that she has the power to work on making them go away. I've been using these therapies on my daughter - now 8 - for about 4 years. It seems about every 8-9 months we'll have some new anxiety that comes up. We use these same strategies and they work every time. It's a little tougher with the Mommy attachment - because she does love you too as part of it - but you are obviously seeing anxiety and that part you can help her with. Good luck ! Be patient ! She's just wired this way, she's not doing it on purpose.