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Sudden changes in my 4 year old daughter
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Sudden changes in my 4 year old daughter

All of a sudden my daughter seems to be having a severe case of separation anxiety.  She has attended the same day care since she was 4 months old. She has never had separation anxiety before and she loves her school.  She knows all of the teachers and has had the same teacher since turning 4.  She will turn 5 in July 07.   For the last month, when I drop her off at day care, she immediately starts clinging to me and tears up.  Her teacher tells me that when I leave she cries for a while, then seems to get very withdrawn.  She will ask over and over if her mommy is coming back to get her. Yesterday her teacher told me that my daughter will now start crying over just about anything.  She cry's because someone got lunch before her,  she cry's if her teacher tells her that play time is over. She cry's if the teacher tells her that book time is over and they will have  a free play time.   I have noticed that she does cry more often as home as well for little things, but I had no idea that this was also happening at school.   She seems obsessed about me leaving her.  An example is that I told her that she was invited to a birthday party this weekend and that I would take her.  Her first question to me was if I was going to leave her and come back and pick her up.  She asked this question with a very worried look on her face. I told her no, I would stay there with her.  She then told me she didn't want to go and wanted to stay home.

I am a single mom who recently (Nov 06) stopped being in a relationship with my daughter's father.  Since that time,  my daughters father has distanced himself from me, which means that he does not see my daughter as often as he did previously.  We never lived together, but my daughter did see her father at least once or twice a week.  Since Nov she has seen him twice.  

I am assuming that this has something to do with my daughter's behavior, but I don
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While it is not uncommon to see a bit of separation anxiety in a four-year-old, the situation with your daughter is not what would be regarded as normal. The association of the behavior and the departure of her father is not accidental. It is safe to presume that it is the major contributing factor to what you are observing. When one parent leaves a family, children are often very anxious about the permanence of the other parent. They understandably 'wonder' if they could be left alone. It's almost as if the child were thinking: "If my father left me, what would stop my mother from leaving? Then I would be all alone." Now, I'm not suggesting that such thinking actually occurs per se, but the impact is the same. Without going out of your way to reassure your daughter about your commitment to her (because too much reassurance will only cause her to be more anxious), be patient and supportive. Obviously try to be available to her, but at the same time don't alter the usual routine to cater to the anxiety. Over time your daughter will relax and be more comfortable that you are a continuing presence in her life.
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