separation anxiety - FamilyEducation
separation anxiety
01/07/2009 at 13:07 PM

My 3 yr old has been crying when I drop her off at pre-school since Sept. She goes 2 days a week and the teacher said once she is in the classroom she is fine. It is not just when I drop her off. She cries when her Father and the sitter take her also. I am getting very concerned because I thought this would have passed by now. We have had talks about how we always come back to pick her up.

She has also recently started crying for me when we put her to bed. Saying that she hears noises (the wind blowing, cars outside), so I go in a sit with her for a while. She asks if I will be downstairs and where everyone else is.

She is also very shy. She does not go to any men other than her Father and Grandfather. She is very distant from her uncle's also. I don't know what to do. Any suggestion? Has anyone had issues like this?

Your daughter may just be going through a phase, and she may feel the most comforted by you. That makes sense being you're her mother. As far as not wanting to go to men besides her father and grandfather cld just be a coincidence. First speak to your daughter's teacher and see if anything is going on at school. Also, talk to your daughter and see if there's anything you can do to make her more comfortable. Can you maybe observe her in the classroom? Also, you mentioned a sitter. Is this a new person in her life? And if so, maybe your daughter's having a difficult time adjusting to him/her. How is your daughter w/ the sitter at other times? Pay close attention to your daughter and observe her in different settings w/ different people. See how she reacts. Take note of any fears she may have or has had in the past. Did she have a bad past experience or frightful situation happen to her? Also, how long has she been exhibiting these fears? Answering these questions can help you better understand or rule out any concerns you may have. Always keep the lines of communication open w/ your daughter. Make sure she feels comfortable in telling you anything. You may find in time that your daughter adjusts to everything and that maybe she just needs more time to warm up to new settings and people she doesn't visit regularly. If you were always her primary caregiver, she may be having a tough time letting go of you. Keep reassuring your daughter and maybe offer her incentives (i.e.--getting ice cream after school). If after all this you still see your daughter is having difficulty, maybe you can talk w/ her dr. for suggestions. Overall, though, this sounds like pretty normal 3 yr old behavior. Best of luck!

Thanks for your feedback. She has always been shy around other people and clings to both me and my husband around strangers. She has been with our sitter since 6 weeks old and I am not aware of any frightening situation that may have upset her. Her teacher and I both have been trying the reward system, but it does not seem to work. Just recently for the Holidays we had been talking about how "Santa is watching" and I think that may have upset her and at night on Xmas eve she asked me if he was going to be coming into her room. At this point, I think I need to talk to her pediatrician.

In a way, it's good that your daughter doesn't go easily to strangers. In this day and age, you have to be so cautious. My kids have always been the opposite, so it's difficult to get them to understand the concept of a stranger. I think you're doing the right thing talking to your daughter's pediatrician. You can never be too careful.