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One of my almost-10-year-old twin daughters is suffering from separation anxiety

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

She refuses to go to sleepovers (but she lets people sleep at our house).  I still have to lie (lay?) down with her when she goes to bed. She freaks out and cries on the very rare occasion I am away for the night (on business, for example).  She usually cries on Sunday nights because Monday means work for me and school or camp for her.


We spend all our free time together and have a close relationship with me.  She says she doesn't like being so far away from me but won't tell me anything else.  Maybe she's afraid something will happen to me.


I'm thinking of starting her with a therapist but I'm wondering if any one else has had this problem with older kids.



post #2 of 6

I don't have this problem with my children, but I did the same thing when I was her age.  I had a lot of anxiety about my mom leaving (would she be in a car wreck, would there be an earthquake?)  Therapy would probably help a lot. 


Are you a single mom?  Mine was and I think that's why I was so anxious about something happening to her.  I remember when I was around 12ish we had a very long talk about what would happen to me if something happened to her (I was terrified of having to live with my father.)  It helped.

post #3 of 6


I literally cried every day of first grade, every day of second grade, and then a big chunk of third grade, mostly all from missing my mom, which is wierd because we were also - like you describe - super close and there weren't any issues at home. I did however also have OCD and could get upset if i didn't get my nighttime routine blown kiss from her (it was more obsessive/compulsive and not emotional), so maybe that played into it more than i realized?


when i was 11 i started to get really upset at the idea that i knew i would lose my mom, it's like i could feel her slipping away from me, i even remember talking to her about this. it didn't make much sense at the time but then suddenly around 12 it was like a rubber band snapping and i just didn't care at all. i couldn't get enough space. 


don't know if that helps, but reading your post reminded me so much about my own worries and fears growing up.


maybe it's a little extreme, but i can't help0 but wonder if a part of this that i experienced was a result of CIO trauma. i was a super sensitive child and i know for a fact that my mom did CIO with me when i was a baby. she thought what a lot of mothers did at the time, that it was somehow empowering me to self-soothe. come on! we don't expect an infant to read or write but we can expect them to do something extraordinarily difficult for most adults even and completely manage their own emotions! its absurd (sorry to rant, i know i'm preaching to the choir here ;-) ). we expect that just because a baby stops crying that they have magically grown this supernatural ability to soothe themselves instead of accessing it practically and realizing that the baby has probably just reached the pitiful conclusion that nobody cares for them once it becomes dark and they are completely alone and it is useless even to cry. being such a sensitive child i think that would have traumatized me as a baby and made it so i had indescribable emotional reactions to separation later. 


I doubt any of that applies to your situation, just thought i would throw it out there...







post #4 of 6

My almost 10 yo wouldn't dream of going on a sleepover, either.  He still cosleeps.  I imagine he'd be pretty uncomfortable if I had to spend the night away.  My mom says all her boys got less anxious when they hit puberty, maybe something to do with testosterone levels.  I don't know if girls would be similar (I was more independent, less afraid of being alone, than my brothers when we were little.)  Ds isn't unduly anxious, but he hasn't had regular forced separation, either.  I think anxiety can kind of feed off itself, the more you are in anxiety producing situations, the easier it is to feel anxious.  I've been able to minimize ds's anxiety producing situations (took him out of school) which I think kept the anxiety tendency from escalating.  I know that's no help, just trying to say your dd sounds within the range of normal for a sensitive kid and that I imagine my ds would act similarly in the same scenario.

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much for the help/advice/personal stories.  It's tough to deal with, and I worry that she will be scared/anxious all her life.  As always, I'll just tell her how much I love her every day and be there as much as I can while at the same time gently nudging her to take risks (i.e. go to a sleepover).  And set up some counseling sessions, too.


Again, thanks!

post #6 of 6

There's a good book called: Freeing Your Child From Anxiety by Tamar Chansky that you might want to get out from the library and look at. I found it helpful for my somewhat anxious son.


I think that starting her with a therapist at this age is good -- it's possible she's got some mild social anxiety issues or other anxiety issues. Getting her some skills for coping and describing how she's feeling before she's in full adolescence might be a good idea. (Heck, all kids would benefit from that, but an anxious child is going to have a harder time through puberty.)

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Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › The Childhood Years › One of my almost-10-year-old twin daughters is suffering from separation anxiety