My almost 7 year old DD1 has developed obsessive behaviors over the last year. When I convince her to stop doing one, she moves on to something else. Right now, she compulsively clears her throat. DH has thought it might be a legitimate thing, but I have always suspected it isn't. When she isn't actively clearing her throat or coughing she makes a little humming noise under her breath. I've given her herbal syrups for cough and throat irritation and it hasn't helped. She's been doing this a little over a month now. She even does it while eating! I'm starting to get concerned about her and why she is picking these things up. Today, she told me without my asking that sometimes she really has to clear her throat, but sometimes she just feels like she should. Is this a developmental stage, or a sign of something else? She is my "spirited" child, almost always full throttle and a very light sleeper. Has been from birth.
Obsessive behaviors - Is this developmentally normal for this age?
I remember my nephew doing this too. It was annoying to everybody. I only saw him a few days a month, and it got on my nerves. Then, he started clearing his throat and saying "um" before everything he said.
He said he wanted to stop, but he just couldn't. He really tried. It got so bad that kids in school started to pick on him. They called him "Um-Ben", and would sit behind him and clear their throat.
So, his parents took the "allergy" route, and tried different meds for allergies.
Eventually, he either outgrew it, learned to control it, or the allergy medicine worked. He shows no signs now of having any issues at all. No tics, no scratchy throat... nothing. But, he does remember when he did that. He says now that he was just a very nervous kid, and it became a habit he couldn't break. When they moved from Seattle to Phoenix, he made the decision to "remake" himself, and worked hard on the involuntary noises. He even wondered if he had tourettes. He doesn't. He's fine, he's a healthy, happy adult.
i think some kids find childhood far more stressful than others. they need a coping mechanism.
one of my dd's friends cleared her throat and one developed tics - a way of blinking his eyes.
my dd got stomach aches.
all these children had high anxiety. in time of course they all cleared up. it would get worse when they were tired or feeling v. stressed.
for me to find out exactly how my child was feeling, instead of asking her how school went, i asked her if she had a tummy ache. that would speak volumes more than what she would say, because she did not know how to say what affected her.
My BIL does the throat clearing thing, it is a tic for him. My DD1 is my spirited, high energy, non sleeping, and full of anxiety child. Age 6 was a very difficult year for her. She did not handle the stresses of normal childhood well. We started therapy did, she learned mediation, methods of coping with stress, She improved after that year, and then spiraled down again right at age 9. By then, she was done with feeling "so much" as she said so we decided to try meds for general anxiety which have greatly improved her quality of life.
she was a HNs baby and a spirited child. she is the typical worrier. Just like my mom. so she never had enough anxiety to see a therapist, but i think we didnt need a therapist because we bf till her 9th bday and we still cosleep.
the thing with that kind of anxiety is - that you really cant do anything to fulfill your desire of making it go away. growing up and maturity does it for them. AND how you as a mom behave. one time when dd was 3 she yelled out while we were driving around trying to find my way back 'ma EVERYTHING for you is an adventure. what if we never find our way back? and i asked her - is this the first time we've been lost? have we never found our way home again? she was a listener so i talked. from about 4 whether she could understand or not. i'd tell her life is what it is. a choice is not a choice. sadness and happiness exist side by side. when something happened to us which i knew would bring fear to her, i'd say meh- this makes it harder but we'll figure it out.
all of that worked. to a degree. she sees the adventure now. she is more of a balanced child being able to see the bigger picture (not all the time).
another thing i did was start meditation with her since the age of 3. she'd join me at a group meditation and would fall asleep while we meditated. THAT really helped, because when she panicked she had to control it while going into it. if the panic attack hit, she had trouble breathing and anything she did would make it worse. going inward has truly helped her. the problem is she asks to be alone then - and her classmates just does not understand that - even in 4th grade.
the 3 golden rule still applied - enough food, enough rest, enough exercise and also importantly enough one on one time (sometimes we just needed 5 mins at other times like 15) so she'd talk about her problems. if she didnt i'd talk about mine (i did this a lot too when i saw her struggling with something but not bringing it up) and she'd bring it up eventually.
another thing that was HUGE for her is giving her responsibilities. not just chores her age level. but work that made her feel she contributed to the family. i think that was v. grounding for her. it really helped in K too. the teacher saw this and gave her extra responsibilites in class to the point that dd went to school not becasue she wanted to, but she went because she felt her teacher couldnt do her work well without dd helping.
another thing. dd is super independent. has been from birth. came out knowing her own mind. i had to learn how to respect that and go against my own nature. it also meant i had to let her be herself. give her a safe place to vent. i did a little bit about what was appropriate expression but mostly i knew she knew, she just needed to get it off her chest. she loses all reason in the middle of a tantrum so i didnt stop her till she was 7 when her consciousness developed and seh was far worse on herself than on me. so i had to save her from her own self.
dd still has anxiety. but she is learning to cope with all her fears. she is realising hey its not half as bad as it appears to be. part of the reason is her, part of it is growing up, and part of it is me - egging her to go try it... so much so that she IS trying it on her own without me there. she still gets tummy aches, but its rare.