Child Behavior Expert Forum
4 year old separation anxiety
About This Forum:

This forum is for questions and support regarding child behavior issues such: Child Discipline (behavior management), Normal Child Development, Parent-Child Communications, Social Development

Font Size:
This expert forum is not accepting new questions. Please post your question in one of our medical support communities.
Blank Blank

4 year old separation anxiety

Fifteen months ago, I went out one evening and left my then 35 month old son napping with his usual sitter.  When he woke up I wasn't home and he got terribly upset; so much so that the sitter called me to let me know.
Since that day, my son will no longer stay with anyone but myself or my husband.
He used to stay with his grandparents for an afternoon once or twice a month, he used to stay in the day care at the gym, or occasionally with a close friend, he would even stay in his little spanish class without me.
Though we had a baby, the baby was eleven months old when the separation anxiety started.

He started preschool twice a week for 2 1/2 hours - three months into the separation anxiety.  He was one of three boys in his class of fifteen that wasn't ready to stay without Mom.  His teacher encouraged us to stay as long as it took for our child to get comfortable.  The two other boys outgrew their anxiety three quarters of the way through the school year.  Mine never did.  I spent the whole school year in the classroom with him.

This year I told his teacher (same one as last year, same classroom) that I would try bringing him to school for ONE month.  That if things don't improve, I would pull him out and homeschool him.
She suggested I sit in the classroom for two weeks without interacting with him.  Basically reading a book, just being a physical presence and nothing else.  After the two weeks are up, leave to do an 'errand' for half an hour, then the next day for an hour, and so on to gradually work up to the full 2 1/2 hours of class.
I will have my cell phone and she will call me if he is in distress, but otherwise she will just comfort him and soothe him and keep him under her wing to help him through it.

Though I would love to see him outgrow his separation anxiety (it has been fifteen months since my husband and I have been on a date, and my now two year old daughter hasn't spent ANY time alone with me), I am more concerned about not causing more damage by pushing him before he is ready.  I really want to just do what is in my son's best emotional interest.

Though everyone seems to tell me that separation anxiety is normal and that it comes on suddenly and that is goes away suddenly too, I don't know one person whose child has had it AS LONG as my son has had it, nor has had it as SEVERE as my son does.

Though we only speak spanish in our home, both my children are fluent in english.  Please note that my son is not shy.  He will initiate conversation with children and adults alike, whether we know them or not.  He is playful and easy going.

Do I keep him in school and prod him along?
Do I pull him out and homeschool, so he can outgrow his conflict at his own pace?
Should I be concerned that my younger daughter might start mirroring the behavior?

Any comments, input, guidance, insight, wisdom, would be helpful and much appreciated.
Thank you so very much :)
Related Discussions
242606 tn?1243786248
You are being very patient and thoughtful in your management of this situation. Unfortunately, you're likely also enabling the situation by not providing your son with the very experiences (i.e., separations) that will help him. It's important, though difficult, to arrange things so that your son will have to 'bite the bullet', so to speak. This means that you do not allow his reaction to determine your behavior. The family is now organizing itself around your son's anxiety, and this will not help him to adapt. Definitely don't withdraw him from school. Leave him off and go. At home, don't let him determine who will and will not care for him - that's your choice. The things you've tried aren't wrong, and with some children they might have been effective. But they haven't been effective for him. It might break your heart a bit to try what I'm suggesting, but the approach will likely bring results if you can be faithful to it. Your son will change to the degree that you can change.
1 Comment
Avatar n tn
A related discussion, separation anxiety 4 1/2 year old boy was started.
Avatar f tn
My daughter wasn't a real clingy child until recently..She was going to a daycare provider since the age of 1..She just stopped going there february of this year..Started her at a new daycare and after the second week she was crying all the time so she was.terminated from that particular daycare...Now she barely wants to be away from me and her dad..She cries when she isn't around us..Idk.what's going on and y this suddenly started happening..It's getting very frustrating because idk what to do..
Continue discussion Blank
Weight Tracker
Weight Tracker
Start Tracking Now