Our youngest, Eve, has always been a little more sensitive than other kids.

I’ve written before about what we tried to do about her worries. Recently, she has started showing what we’ve referred to as separation anxiety.

When I go to work, or her five year old sister goes to school, or her mum has to go out, she clings on and cries. She doesn’t want anyone to go. “I don’t want you to go to work, Daddy”, along with tears, has become a regular part of our mornings. She also has been getting upset when it comes to going into nursery and leaving mum behind.

We sought advice, and it was suggested that she is feeling a lack of control. Her behaviour is her trying to have control over a situation and failing, which makes things worse.

Separation Anxiety

Control

Given that she is four, there are many aspects of her life where she won’t have any control.

What we are going to have to do is

  • Not ask her direct questions, but give her a list of choices
    This is particularly relevant when other adults are there. She is very shy. If you ask a shy child an open question, you’re not going to get much of an answer. If you give them choices, then they can at least pick one. It makes them feel like they’ve made a choice, had some control, and will also make them more confident than being given a conversation space and being pressured to fill it.
  • Speak positively about her day at nursery
    Both before she goes and when she gets home, we will talk up her nursery activities. By being so enthusiastic about it, she will hopefully ‘buy in’ to this and be far less concerned with the fact she’s leaving mum behind.

It’s tough. The above will help, but it isn’t the whole answer.

We’ve bought a book on how to cope with an anxious child. We have a specialist nurse coming to us to help with more advice. It’s just a matter of being very aware, attentive and patient. We’re hopeful that continuous assurement and following the above steps will generate positive results and make Eve a little less worried about being away from her parents.