Thank you for starting this thread. I'm dealing with anxiety issues in my 6 yo DD and right now, they're kicking my butt. I swear this has been one of my biggest parenting challenges ever!
DD has always been "sensitive" and more easily scared than my other children. But her fears didn't really veer outside the realm of normal until this past summer. What started as a fear of the dark (quite normal) expanded into fear of being alone in ANY setting.
Now she won't be on a floor of the house that no one else is on, even to just dash upstairs to grab something. She won't go out to the car alone to get her shoes, won't go 3 doors down the street with me WATCHING her walk to meet up with her other sibs to play. She cries every.single.morning before school and often for hours AT school about being separated from me, Dad, and from her brothers and sisters. And she's only in school for 4 hrs. a day, 4 days a week b/c she's homeschooled the rest of the time (charter school.)
As if all that wasn't enough, she has a peanut allergy and 2 weeks ago, she was inadvertently exposed via cross-contamination and ended up in the ER with an anaphylactic reaction. You can imagine what this has done for her overall anxiety level!
Now she refuses to eat anything unless she can watch me prepare it and even so, she cries multiple times a day because she's afraid of peanuts. We don't even have any peanuts in the house, but this doesn't reassure her.
I recently finished the book "Freeing Your Child From Anxiety" which had some good CBT techniques and relaxation things to try -- she likes the balloon blowing exercise and it does seem to calm her down when she melts down. We've met with one therapist, who confirmed the anxiety dx, but couldn't continue meeting with her b/c her openings didn't work for our schedule. Need to call the other 3 people on the list. I also attend a monthly support group of parents in my children's school whose kids who require more "involved" parenting
, and they gave me a couple of good suggestions that I plan to try out.
1. Let her have a small object (on a bracelet or necklace or in her pocket) to handle and rub when she feels scared.
2. Create a mantra or affirmation of a few lines and repeat it to her every day and have her repeat it to herself, something like this:
"My name is ______.
I am a 1st grade girl.
I like butterflies and school.
I am strong and brave."
So far, we haven't had ANY success with the concept of the Worry Bug, but I do think I can use CBTs of desensitizing her to the peanut phobia -- the book gave some good, concrete suggestions about that which I plan to try. The separation anxiety is harder to fight, though, and is infinitely more frustrating. Her world is shrinking before my very eyes, and she really would like mine to shrink along with it (i.e. never leave her for any reason, ever.)
Nice to chat with others who are dealing with this, too.