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separation anxiety
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separation anxiety

Hello,

I am hoping someone here can help me.  I am the mother of a wonderful 3 year old, who loves me to death.  Unfortunatley, that love has turned into anxiety for him and I don't know what to do.  

I understand that separation anxiety is normal for children around 1 year old.  But my son did not develop this until he was about 2 and a half.  I have been leaving him with a caretaker since he was 2 weeks old - I had him over christmas break in college, so I would leave 3 days a week for about 3 hours, I promise I am not a bad mother dumping my child off on strangers!  By the way, his babysitters were my mom and his dads mom.  Anyway, at about 2 years old I started taking him to daycare.  He was doing well there until a little girl with MAJOR behavioral and developmental problems started attending.  She terrorrized my son.  He began to cry everyday and begged me not to leave him.  But I had to leave, at this point I had finished college and was substitue teaching, something I had to do as often as possible to get a full time job.

Finally, I could not take my son crying everyday on the way to daycare, so I found him a new daycare - PS, his first daycare not only had this little terror there, but was also very mentally abusive to my son.  The owner would say things like, oh he's just too sensitive and needs to toughen up, I'll get him to get along with this little girl.  And she began purposfully putting these 2 kids together to try to prove that she could fix the problem.  All she did was make it worse!  She also told him things like you're to big for a binky, you don't need that stupid thing, when are you going to grow up and live without it.  -  He was 2!!!!  And it was none of her business if he used a bink, he only used it there for nap time.  And it isn't right to be insulting about that kind of stuff to a 2 year old....  I'm sorry, I have to get off this subject because I could go on and on about this witch that tormented my son.

Anyway, we found a new daycare.  A sweet little place with only a few children, this daycare was more like a personal babysitter than a daycare, which is exactly what I thought my son needed.  But I think too much damage was done because now he cries everyday when I drop him off and he asks, are you coming back?  And he also began having outbursts there.  He will be playing for a few minutes and then just stop and start to cry.  And he becomes inconsolable.  The other kids there have even said "he's weird"  

I don't know what to do.  How do I help my poor little boy.  Should I seek professional help for my son, and if so where do I take him?  I don't think he has any other problems.  Developmentally he is ahead of the game - he walked at 9 months, talked at 6 months, potty trained at 1 year!!!!  he is amazing.  People meet my son for the first time and can't believe what they see.  He is the smartest, kindest, most thoughtful, loving little boy you could ever meet.  He only has problems at daycare, He doesn't have a problem when i drop him off anywhere else.  I fear that he will become depressed due to the stress of being dropped off, but I have to work.  And his grandparents work so they can't watch him everyday.  Daycare is really my only option, and I live in a rural area in pa so there aren't many daycares to choose from.  Please help me help my son to be ok with getting dropped off at daycare.
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I suspect, like you, that your son is suffering from separation anxiety.  If you google the phrase "anxiety and toddlers" or "separation anxiety and school" or similar words/phrases, you should be able to find lots of information on the internet.  There are many books, as well, on this topic.  Severe separation anxiety is called separation anxiety disorder - whether this is the issue with your son or not, I'm not sure.  Whatever, rest assured that anxiety is a very common problem with children and with proper intervention the prognosis is excellent.  But, you as the parent will have to do your research - read, read and read some more to try to figure out those ideas which might help your son and then it will be up to you to educate the daycare on how to implement them.

One book I might suggest is "the highly sensitive child" by Elaine N. Aron - by googling this book title you should find information on the internet; however, this book can be purchased in a book store or should be available in your public library.  If you are still overwhelmed, then I might suggest talking to your family doctor re assistance in how to deal with your son's anxiety (if he/she is unable to help you, then ask for a referral to a specialist with experience in anxiety issues.  

The only thing that works with anxiety is to "lessen the anxiety" and this must be done in his perceived unsafe place (the daycare).  It may take some detective work to find out what works (and anxiety does not resolve itself quickly) but, anxiety is highly treatable.  I wish you the best ....
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