My 4 year old daughter had severe separation anxiety between 12 and 26 months. It stopped gradually and she became a very friendly and outgoing little girl. Then suddenly in the last 2 weeks she began clinging to me again. At our weekly play dates at the park I’m never more than 20 ft away from her and always in plain view. Still, she refuses to play with the other kids and sits on the bench with me and the other parents watching the other kids play. At home she wants to be right next to me at all times. She says she sees monsters and that she’s scared all the time. She doesn’t seem to be able to find comfort in anyone and anything except me. She and her 7 year old brother have always been close, but now she won’t play with him unless I’m in the room too. She has trouble getting to sleep and wakes up between 2 and 6 times each night. Neither of us has gotten a full night’s sleep since this began. I am a stay at home mom and I know nothing has happened that would cause this kind of behavior. There haven’t been any major changes in her life since her father’s and my separation and divorce when she was 1 and a half. Is this normal? What can I do to help her?
It's not particularly unusual, though also not common. It makes sense to be patient and supportive, but be sure not to let her behavior drive the routines of the family. In other words, continue to expose her to normal experiences, particularly with her peers in social and recreational contexts.
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