Please Help with 4Yo Anxiety

Updated on October 27, 2009
W.T. asks from Mc Lean, VA
5 answers

We recently moved back to America and my 4 year old son is having some anxiety in a few areas concerning the move.

He misses his friends, his nanny, school, room and activities. He is also asking questions about the NEXT time we will be moving.

The issue that needs immediate attention is pre-school. Please give me some ideas to make the drop off easier for us both. Once my husband or I leave he settles quickly and enjoys the rest of the day. Today was his first day back after being out for 3 weeks and my husband had a terrible time with him. My son even tried to hit his teacher. He usually wines or cries but has never become angry or voilent.

Any tips to make this easier for him will be greatly appreciated.


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answers from Saginaw on

What your child does once you leave is open to speculation --a lot of pre-schools and daycares have a child (or several) that are inconsolable for several minutes or even hours after arrival, even when they tell the parents that is not happening. They have their own reasons for lying about this, but many of them absolutely lie.

Also, when children are tested for the presence of stress hormones, it has been shown that the children who appear to be coping fine are in fact coping, not thriving --their stress hormones are as high as the children who are wailing and slamming their bodies against the doors. They just figured out that their stress isn't going to be addressed, so they don't bother to demonstrate it.

I think your son is trying to tell you that too much of his world has changed for him to feel stable without one of you two with him. This will probably last less than a year (probably a lot less than a year)...

He doesn't need preschool as much as he needs a stable life, so he can once again feel curious, explore and learn anything. No one learns anything valuable under constant stress.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

From personal experience I would suggest seeing a therapist. Seems extreme, but I am an adult who now suffers from constant panic/anxiety attacks. When children deal with stressful situations they are ususally able to brush them off and move on, your son is not doing this and that is cause for concern. I am sure many would disagree; my mother was one of them. Now, I am left to deal with anxiety about seeing the doctor, as I feel like I am too old. I'm not even thirty, but having dealt with this for more than 2 decades, I feel that it should have been taken care of earlier. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Seeing a therapist does not mean your child is crazy, but it does show that you are concerned. This really is not an extreme measure, in fact, if the therapist feels they are un-needed they will let you know. Better to be safe than sorry. My panic attacks are spontaneous, but often occur when I am in the car. This is so so so dangerous, as my son is often in the car with me. My legs go numb, I have to pee, I can't catch my breath, I shake, I cry, I can't focus, it's horrible. My therapist says that curing anxiety means learning to cope, and had I visited a therapist as a child, I could very well have avoid these complications as an adult. Good luck in whatever you do. Oh yeah, your son doesn't NEED preschool. Children who do not go to preschool do not die, therefore no child needs it. I just thought I would throw that in after reading a previous post! Again, good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Hello Wendy,
Sounds like he has had a lot of changes in such a short period of time, he is stressed. I would be angry or mad too if all of sudden we are living in a new house, no friends, and now a new school. I know this has to be hard for your whole family but if there is a way for him to become more familar with his school, and you could maybe join a mom's group for him to meet new friends that he can see often? A familar face will help him adjust, it will take time but it will get better. Also the hitting the teacher, I would look into this, as the other mom said they might not be telling the truth. Talk to your son, he is old enough to tell you about school and if anything happened. Ask him if he like his new school and teacher. Give him lots of love and attention because he needs it right now until he can feel more secure in his new home.
Best of luck,



answers from Tampa on

I totally agree with two of the that unless it is absolutely necessary because you need to work, then I would wait until he is feeling less anxious about all the changes before leaving him anywhere without his parents. He really needs to have the security, comfort and trust built back up. Once he is more adjusted to his new home, has made some friends, is used to some new routines,etc then leaving him may not be so stressful. I agree that preschool may have certain benefits, but not when the stress outweighs the benefits.

I also agree that a good child therapist would be wonderful. They are really experts in helping kids understand and deal with stress and anxiety in ways that parents aren't equipped to help them. It may resolve itself with a therapist in a couple months, or drag on unaddressed for years without one....I know of an excellent guy if interested!

Best wishes to you all and welcome!



answers from Orlando on

Please do not listen to anyone who tells you "he doesn't need preschool". You do NOT need to feel guilty if you have him in school because you are working, nor do you need to second guess your own reasons for having him in preschool, whatever they may be. My son's school has webcams so I can watch him from the internet whenever I want. I also used to be a preschool teacher and we very rarely had a child who cried inconsolably for more than a few minutes, and if they did then we called the parents. I think having him in preschool where he can make new friends is a GREAT idea, especially if some of the kids in his school will go to the same school for kindergarten next year.

As for helping him adjust... You need to build up trust with him so he will believe you when you tell him you are not moving again any time soon (if that IS fact the case!!) For example, I used to babysit when I was a teenager and some parents would actually sneak out of the house without saying good-bye!!! Then the child would be hysterical and go all over the house looking for their parents. I couldn't leave the child's side for one second because he would be afraid that I might disappear, too! Make sure you say good-bye to him and let him know you will be back.

Establish new rituals for your new home and his new surroundings to help him feel safe. Ask him to talk about what he missed from your old home and try to make that new again-- like if he misses his friends, ask him to pick a school friend and arrange a play date. If he misses something specific about his old room, try to create something new that is just as special.

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