32 answers

Seeking Moms Advice for Children with over Exaggerate Fear.

My 6 year old boy is afraid of almost everything. He is afraid of going to the bathroom by himself, afraid of being by himself in his room with the door close, afraid of being by himself without immediate reach of someone. For Example: If he is in the dining table, and I am in the living room where I can clearly be seen by him - he is still afraid and asks me to accompany him. He starts yelling out and consistly calls out for me. Has anyone heard of this? Any ideas to try to get him out of this over exaggerating fear? I will be taking my son to the doctor for suggestions, however, anyone out there that can relate to this?

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has he been on a lot of antibiotics? sometimes an over growth of yeast can cause strange aggresssive behavior or anxiety. i would look into probiotics. If you think this is an issue write me baack and i will tell you the safe and good brand to get for babies and children
J.

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Baby steps. Start by being there for him, finding out how he feels comfortable then slowly take small steps getting him comfortable with the situation more like you'd prefer it.

"The Anxiety Cure For Kids" is great. Goes into much more detail.

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I think this is a very normal thing that is probably being exaggerated due to your separation with your husband. My 6 and 8 year olds still don't like to go upstairs by themselves or have the door closed to their rooms. Your son is just feeling extra needy because of the family situation. I say go ahead and give him the closeness he needs, it will probably lessen as he gets more used to your family situation. Good luck!

Did your son's behavor start before or after you and your husband were separated? It sounds like he is feeling the loss (or absence )of his Father and fears that somehow you will also disappear or be taken away from him. Constant reasurance from you that you are always going to be there for him will help calm his fears.

Talk to him-let him express his feelings; this is probably "separation anxiety". He is probably afraid that you,too,will be gone.

It's good not to be negative about your husband-but your son
doesn't understand.

It is a difficult time now, but for your son the issue should be fsced now-so it won't have residual effects.

Good Luck, and this too shall pass-

L. P

Trying to keep his mind occupied is great. He may be afraid that you're going to leave, like daddy did...Reassure him that you are not going anywhere. It's probably very scary when you leave for work. You're in a very difficult position honey. Show them "all the love you can" when you are together and when you get home from work, tell them, SEE, MOMMYS HOME. Then huggs and kisses. Good luck mommy

Hi Y.,
It sounds like he is seeking your attention, one on one attention. Maybe try spending time with only him for 10 minutes an hour, I know it will be hard with four kids but it can be done. It can be as simple as reading a book, have him help pack lunches, make dinner, anything. My son was acting out being naughty and I tried this and it worked the more I called on him the better he is. I don't know if it builds confidence or just makes them feel safe but it did work for me. I am sorry about your situation and I hope it works out.
W.

Hi Y.,

I feel for you . . . I know this has to be hard. Has your son acted this way all along, or is this something new? I ask because I'm sure some will say that it has to do with your seperation. But my 4.5 yr. old acts the exact same way. And my husband & I are not separated, and have no plans on being separated. We've done everything under the sun to try and reassure him, and we have come to the conclusion (along with several doctors) that this is something he just has to outgrow on his own.

One thing that may be different in our situation is that my husband was the same way when he was this age. So we're believing that some of it may be hereditary. My son also has night terrors and talks in his sleep (so did my husband).

I can't really offer any advice other than what you already know, and that is to just try and be very reassuring. But I understand completely how you feel, and I hope that it gets better. Please let us know how it goes. And if you need an ear, just send me a message and we can talk.

Take care,
L.

I am guessing your separation might have something to do with his fear but that's normal. Both of my daughters, ages 5 1/2 and almost 8, have fear of being left alone. I think it is very normal, though frustrating at times! I try to encourage them about being big girls and sneaking away for a moment so they don't even know I'm gone then pointing out I WAS gone. They are afraid of the dark, leaving the closet door open, being left on a floor of the house if no one else is there, going to the bathroom by them selves, especially when it's dark outside, etc. Just try to encourage him and reassure him you are still there, just not right next to him. It can be exhausting, can't it? Hope this makes you feel a little better.

I just wonder one thing that may be a little hard for you to answer. I'm just wondering if before you & your husband got separated, if there was any violence in the home? Whether it was directed to you or you child(ren).

The situation with your son is exactly what was going on with my daughter when she was that age. I let her know that I understood that these fears very real to her and I didn't make a big deal of it to her.
I didn't take her to a doctor because a friend of mine went through the same thing. I just listened to my daughter and comforted her as much as I could. I am a single mother and I worked while my mom took care of her for me.
Right now my daughter is a perfectly fine 13 year old and her fears faded with time. It seemed like it was just something that she had to work through by herself and me reassuring her helped her through it. The more I sympathized with her and talked to her about her fears, the more she worked on overcoming them herself as time went by. She was so proud of herself when she finally played in her room alone, or when she went to the bathroom by herself, etc. and I praised her like crazy. I wish I could help you more because I remember how frustrating it was and it does take time, but I think your son is sensitive and he will outgrow these fears and remain a sensitive kid, which is great. He just needs a little more attention right now than other kids. Something inside of him needs the reassurance that someone is there for him no matter what.
My daughter always tells me now that she knows that I am always there for her. I'm glad I was patient with her.
Take care.

Have you tried walkie-talkies?
That way he can talk to you when your in another room, may also be fun!

Well, he is "telling" you he is afraid of being left. In his six year old brain he is trying to sort out what is going on in his family. Hm...daddy left. Everybody is acting "normal", I KNOW it's not normal. Mommy isn't herself, she is acting strange. Will mommy leave me too?
Seperation or divorce is very hard on children and when they are little it is very hard to express how they are feeling.
Does he see his dad? If he doesn't please, PLEASE make sure he does! Does he talk to his dad? How are you making sure there is still connection? The seperation is hurtful for you (I know, been there) but it is also hurtful for your son. Do everything you can to keep him seeing his dad.
By the way, you don't have to try and keep things "normal"! Sit down with him and tell him how sad you are that daddy left. How much you miss him too. Show him that it is ok to cry, to be sad and that you wish things were different and more importantly that you won't leave him. It may be good for you and your children to go to counseling and to have family meetings to talk about how you are all feeling. Does it have to be every day? No but don't push it completely aside. Seperation is like a death in the family, allow yourself and your children to mourn.
I am very sorry for your loss hun. *HUG* It will get easier.

I suggest that you seek out a child psychologist who has experience with this type of problem...Children's Memorial Hospital would be a good place to start, or if you are on the south side of the city, the University Of Chicago Medical Center...

If you are in a northern suburb, Victoria Lavigne, Ph.D. in Northbrook is excellent.

R. Katz, Psy.D.
www.richardkatz.org

My daughter has exhibited behavior much like what you describe. She is 4 (and has behaved like this since we can remember). We have had her seen by a developmental therapist. The appointment was interesting, the doctor offered to see us again, however, suggested we be patient, try a few things at home to build her confidence, reassure her safety and work slowly toward building her independence. She suggested that we recognize that our daughter's progress would be incremental and likely very slow (as we worked on all of these things). An example, she said that while we felt that our daughter should be able to go to the bathroom alone and would want to work toward that with her our steps toward that might be as small and incremental as standing one foot from her, then 2, then in the hallway, etc. and that this would take weeks to accomplish. She suggested we plan activities that give her a sense of accomplishment, confidence, pride. And, that we plan activities that make her uncomfortable so that we could work on reassuring her feeling of saftey, etc. The doctor seemed to suggest (that for our daugther anyway) that this was a developmental issue that she would likely overcome, albiet might rear its head in other forms at other developmental stages. It's been four months since our appointment and we have been working on all of the above (not religiously, not charting it, but keeping it first and foremost in our minds) and I think we have seen some progress. We are now in the hallway when she goes to the bathroom, rather than next to her (nearly holding her hand). It feels better. She seems happier and to be growing, etc. As the parent, its been very exhausting, her behavior is hard to explain to others, she's hard to predict (when she'll exhibit the fear, when she'll decide to be okay), etc. I wish you luck.

I have a child with severe anxiety that extends beyond separation anxiety. Based on our experiences, I would recommend a few visits with a therapist who deals with childhood anxiety issues. While you son may outgrow this, if you can introduce some techniques that help him do so more quickly, I think you will all benefit. While it may not seem proportionate or realistic, the fear is very very real for your son, and this is not a fun way to live for him. It must be awful to be afraid to take care of your basic needs by yourself? I would suspect the separation may play a part, and he has fears of you leaving him as well, so whatever reassurance you and his dad are able to offer would be great. Good luck. I feel for the little fellow!

I have to agree with the mom that has the background in psychology and counseling. I'm no professional as she is, but your separation could be part of the cause. It's great that you speak highly of your husband to your kids, but the reality is that he's not in the home anymore. And your son may be afraid that you're the next to go. My advice is to sit down with him, just you and him, and have a heart-to-heart with him. I don't think there's a need to tell him right-out that you're not going anywhere, I think those specific words could bring up more fears later on, but reassure him that sadly, separations are a common thing these days (if he knows other families that are separated, mention those people, then he'll really know that he's not alone), let him know that his father would do nothing but the best for him, that you will do whatever you can to keep him happy and healthy. I think this is really an opportunity for you to build a foundation for him to be able to really talk to you for years to come.

Hi Y.,
I would see a family counselor or therapist. It would be extremely helpful if your husband would attend as well.

I went through a divorce when my kids were this age - 9 and 4. They are too young to articulate these deeper fears of separation and loss so they act them out...., and so I engaged an art therapist. She suggested that each morning we have paper placemats and crayons on the table, and we discussed our dreams from the night before. This allowed them to have a venue for their fears, dreams hopes imagination in a safe way.

I also used - and so did their dad- exchange stories with them at bed time with a make believe character as a hero. So, we would start the story "One day Sneedarompus went to school and had a great adventure...then it was my son's turn to do the next sentence. and back and forth. This allowed him to tell the story of his life in a non threatening way and allowed us to redirect the plot toward empowering options/choices/comforts. Believe me this is fun. so start bedtime early. Your son would probably love this, and if he doesn't do so himself, you could probably insert some fear drama into the story in a cloaked or disguised way and create some interesting resolutions.
I also had a practice in those days of sending the kids out the door with a blessing - some little ritual with my hands. It was different with both. I would ask my 4 year old "where's your power?" she loved that.
And I send a blessing to you and your children, Yesina.

Betsy

My son just turned 5 and he battled bad separation anxiety for a long time. It got better around when he turned 3.5 years old and went to preschool. They had to tear him off of my leg for months, and that was heartbreaking for me. But, I was so glad they were willing to work with us on this. I cried every day, but I knew it was best for him. He had to get over being separated from me for a little while. Anyway, he just turned 5 now and he is starting to show separation anxiety again. We do a art class where I go with him and his younger brother. He will cry every time I leave his side. Even if I am in the same tiny room with him and just chasing after his brother, he will cry. I don't think he likes the teachers and that is why he is doing that. I don't know why he doesn't like them though. At swim lessons, he will go with his class, but he waves to me every time he is done doing a task. If I leave the room while he is at a class, he will cry. So, I guess we are starting up wtih separation anxiety again when we are outside the home. When we are home he is fine. So, I am not sure why this is happening, and I have been told that I just need to wait it out. It is so hard and I definitely feel your pain. I worry because I feel like this is abnormal, but my husband cried at school until he was in 4th grade I guess, so it must be hereditary. My husband is now 35 and he is fine, so I guess it isn't something to worry too much about. I don't have much advise because I don't know what to do myself. But, maybe he is just having a hard time with all the change going on and if you slowly work on leaving him in one room and you go in another room for short periods of time, maybe it will get better eventually. You just never know at this age what the real issue is. It's a hard balance to show them support and love yet let them cry a little. Good luck!

has he been on a lot of antibiotics? sometimes an over growth of yeast can cause strange aggresssive behavior or anxiety. i would look into probiotics. If you think this is an issue write me baack and i will tell you the safe and good brand to get for babies and children
J.

Hi Y., I agree with what alot of other Moms are saying and wanted to just reassure you that this is most likely a phase he is going through. The seperation from your husband doesnt make it easier, but I dont beleive that caused his fear either. I have 2 boys ages 12 and 8. My 12 year old went through the fear stage (not wanting to go to the bathroom alone, not wanting the light off in his room at night, or the closet door open, ect.) but now he is fine. Now my 8 year old is going through this and like we did with our older son, we just kept reassuring him that nothing was going to "get him"
We have to understand that everyone has fears, even us adults and even though we can handle fear better cause we know better, our children can feel our anxiety, and with seeing scary commercials on tv, and hearing things that happen on the news, since they are so young and innocent, it has to be a 10 times worst feeling for them.
Hang in there and just be patient. It should get better.

N.

Mom of 3 great kids, Ryan 12, Troy 8 & Audrey 3. Wife to an awesome guy for the last 18 years.

It really sounds like your son is just having a reaction to you and your husbands separation. He seems to be having separation anxiety. He probably does not want to let you out of his sight for fear that you will leave also. I am sure there is something that your doctor would recommend you do to help your son. I would think that a constant reassurance that you are not going to leave you be a good start. I would make sure you talk to your sons doctor. Good luck.

I'm no psychologist, but it seems to me that it must be related to his fears and feelings about the separation. He's losing his father and he's afraid of losing you, and it sounds like he's acting out. Definitely tell you doctor what's going on in your family life and he can give you some suggestions, like perhaps counseling.

The separation is probably his problem. Maybe in his mind he thinks that if he can't see you then you won't be in his life before long either.....

Then again it could be something he's watching on tv. My oldest went through a terrible time after watching Monster's Inc...of all things. My oldest niece was scared of her room for weeks before they realized it had everything to do with the Scooby Doo episodes that her and my brother were watching together.

Often today we don't think about things being scarey to us and they might not be to some children...(I have a nephew that watched Jurassic Park at about 1 or 2 and it never phased him...turns out he's slightly autistic though so not sure that counts...and I have no idea why my brother thought it was alright for him to watch that movie???)

It may take awhile but you will have to watch him and pay attention to what he does and see what he's watching on tv...or dvds. Ask him lots of questions and see what you can find out.

I have had to make my girls do things at times that I know scare them (with me not far behind as slight security) to show them there is nothing to be afraid of. My youngest can step on a stool to turn on the bathroom light, but she would cry for me to do it because she was afraid of the dark. I finally had to refuse to do it. She finally got the idea that I wasn't going to do it and I kept telling her that nothing would happen to her...that I was in the next room and she didn't need to be scared....funny she can get up in the middle of the night to walk to my room in the dark, but she couldn't turn on the light in the bathroom. I kept pointing out times she wasn't afraid and emphasizing how proud I was that she was brave.

Good luck!!!

Your son may be going through a period of adjustment. During these times they become very needy, just before becoming more independent. Some people say it is a natural stage. My son went through this when he was older, 4th grade, and he had just broken his leg. The best advice I can give is show him that you are there for him and constantly reassure him. Encourage his independence, but don't push it. Being positive is a great thing.

I would say to make sure you donot yell get angry or punish him for his fears. My son was the same way. He has a vivid imagination. Take the time to talk to him about his fears. Walk with him through the entire house room by room. Ask him what is scary to him and reassure him that he is safe. Stick to it be calm and he should follow suit. Make sure he is not watching shows or playing games that might be scary to him. For my son at night time, he has a night light, we say prayers with him before bed and he listens to quiet bedtime music. The little bit of quiet peaceful music really helps at night because he hears little noises and gets his imagination going. Make sure he knows home is safe. Good Luck.

it sounds like he may b reacting to the separation of his paarents and is fearing the same will happen to him,I would try and reassure him that the two of you will not be separated in the same way .
it also from your post sounds like you are alo kinda of still focusing on the separation,I know,(been there done that)it is not an easy thing to let go of especially if you and your spouse were together for a long time and when thee are kids involved.Its important that both parents reassure your kids esp the 6 yr old that you both love him and he is in no way the reason for the separation,kids esp young ones hae a way of deciding that it was osmething they did or didn't do that caused the breakup, and he may be worrying that he might cause a break uo between you and him but yet seems he isn'y sure just what (in hs mind) he did wrong.
Just reassure him ,it will take time but he will probably out grow this behavior

The separation has something to do with it. Assuming that the kids are living with you, your son is probably afraid that you will go, too. Reassure him that you are around and eventually, his fears should subside. If they don't, I would recommend seeing if his school has social work for kids whose parents are divorced/separated. Most public schools have a program like this called Rainbows.

(FYI... I am an educator with a psychology and counseling background)

Hiow long has this behavior been going on? If you were to tell me it's been going on for 4 months that would make perfect sense. He's "lost" his Daddy and he's not feeling safe and secure anymore - he's afraid of losing more special people - especially YOU! If it's been going on longer, there are good stories you can read - look to the librarian for suggestions on kids books where the youngster disovers he's fearful....this could open up some dialogue. Something may have happened that he hasn't been able to articulate. Counseling with a school social worker is a good idea too.
K.

This sounds exactly like my 7 1/2 year old son. He started the same symptoms around 6 years old. He wouldn't go in the bathroom alone, can't be upstairs when i am downstairs, i can't even go throw something in the garbage in the garage without him freaking out and screaming for me. Anytime he hears a noise he says "mom what's that" and most of the time its the cat playing or house just making noises. My son was diagnosed at 3 with ADHD so the doctor believes this is anxiety. They put him on Celexa (2mg) and he is much better now. He is able to be in parts of the house alone.

I also contribute some of his behavior to being a single parent and only 2 of us currently in the home. When he is at his fathers or another home with more family members he seems less worried. Unfortunately, i didn't find any natural remedies for him. I wish you luck. Just take it one day at a time and remember your child is having these fears for a reason and not just to get attention.

If you are in west suburbs Linden Oakes/Edwards Hospital can do an evaluation and recomend services, psychiatrist, counseling etc for free. They are in Naperville, IL.

Hi Y.,

It sounds like your child is in fear of you also leaving, since you and his dad are separated. He may not understand why his dad left. Separation is really hard on everyone, especially children. Give his lots of reassurance and affection. Try and explain why you are separated, he may feel to blame. If possible, have your spouse talk to him also. If not , you can check your local school to see if they have a " Rainbow Group" that he can attend. Its a group for children whos parents are deceased, divorsed,single parents, and have emotional issues. It helps kids deal with the "new situations". I hope this helps you.

G.

I think you need to consult a professional about your son's fears. Could they be related to your separation from your husband? I would try to identify when his fears began and see if you can connect any events to the onset. If not, perhaps he suffers from anxiety. In any situation, I would see what your pediatrician and/or a child psychologist has to say. I'm sure they have some strategies that can help.

Best of luck to both of you,
A.

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