Separation Anxiety Help! (long) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 08-16-2012, 07:50 PM - Thread Starter
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My daughter has been going to daycare/pre-k since the age of one. We started with just a few days a week. I worked in the baby room when she was there, just part-time as a sub for a month or so. I guess that's when it all started. She got severe separation anxiety.


No significant history...except some medical issues due to prematurity..and severe doctor anxiety as well. That seems to be much better, although she won't let anyone near her ears (earrings). One of them fell out when she was playing and it was very traumatic for her. It used to be that way with check-ups on her ears too, since she had tube surgery. Also, as a preemie, she had a shot every month for 6 months for RSV when she was an infant. My son had RSV, possibly twice, and he was never the same.  I didn't want to take that chance with a preemie, so I took the opportunity to vaccinate for that. She would scream and hide when she saw anyone in scrubs...even at the vet or in public! Even as an infant. I think she has an extraordinary memory for all events...a gift almost....but the downside to that is the traumatic events really stay with her. 


So her anxiety was an all out scream face...pounding on doors, kicking doors, not being able to look at teachers, not talking to them, hiding, appearing and sounding rude and obnoxious, etc. She would eventually come around and they would tell me she was fine. She would gradually warm up after about 10 minutes. Sometimes when I would come to pick her up, she would not want to leave. She would even make a scene, but not as bad as when I dropped her off. She flourished in school and to me seems almost gifted. My son had a lot of delays and issues so that is my main comparison.


I remember one time I had her tested for delays because she was speech delayed like my son. She was 2 years old. They had to leave the room to get more tests because she breezed through everything and was up to the 2nd grade level! She did get some speech therapy, but cognitively she was incredibly bright. I remember crying because it was at that point I realized how difficult things must be for my son. He was struggling to do those same types of exercises and she was 2 and he was 6! He is incredibly gifted with vocabulary, but tends to struggle in other areas -and he was much more delayed with speech than she was!


So, I am feeling like her potential at school is HUGE since not only is she bright, but she is one of those kids who WANTS to learn to do things independently. She is so determined to do stuff...she will just try and try. I didn't even have to teach her to tie shoes. She just learned on her own in pre-k. Blowing bubbles with gum...done. Snapping...done. My son who is almost 10? Not done. I think a lot of it is desire...he doesn't care to learn because he knows it will be difficult for him and he gets frustrated. He'd rather not deal with that.


I feel that her anxiety will get in the way at school. She is starting kindergarten on Monday. Orientation today was ugly. In pre-k, when I was at the point of researching child psychologists, she finally started getting better, but she would relapse any time there was a change in classrooms or teachers.


I think I am going to have to take her to a psych. I just don't have any time without my son to take her, so it will be a family affair and that brings in a whole other dynamic. My daughter and son fight constantly. It's in a fun loving way but it always gets taken too far, too fast and turns ugly with screaming and yelling and hitting. She hits him..but he loves to tease her and is downright mean to her...and she is learning this behavior from him. He can be sweet with her around strangers, but when they are home or in the car, or out with me and nothing or no one else to entertain them, it is bad.


We saw a LMHC together for a while (mainly for my son's issues with frustration, defiance) and she really downplayed a lot of his odd behaviors (like kleptomania/hoarding-like impulses), which made me feel a lot better, but some of the behaviors she downplayed I found to be unacceptable and very concerning....she was a bit too laid back in my opinion.


Can anyone tell me of good experiences with a child psychologist (not psychiatrist) and any other pros or cons of one or the other?  I want to save medication as a last resort, and I know psychiatrists can be quick to medicate. 


Anyone else have similar experience? When does the separation anxiety get better? It's been five years!

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#2 of 3 Old 08-20-2012, 03:37 PM
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Anyone have any advice to share?

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#3 of 3 Old 08-22-2012, 05:30 PM
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My experience with a child therapist is very limited.  I have a lot of experience with adult mental health issues personally but child mental health issues, not so much.  My oldest did see a therapist several times for her ADHD diagnosis and all my children loved him.  I was like you, had to bring the other children to the appt.  I thought it would be detrimental to the sessions but his office was set up to be completely childproof and friendly.  He was a play therapist and his desk was in a very back corner of the room and about 80% of the room was devoted to toys and some small manipulatives.  He had two comfortable couches facing each other near his desk but most of his therapy was done on the carpet in and among the toys.  The set-up was brilliant as he EXPECTED the room to get messy and "loved" and it didn't upset him.  So my other two children played and enjoyed themselves during my oldest daughter's sessions.  I highly recommend a play therapist because children's attention spans are so minimal.  Could you ask in the "finding your tribe" area if anyone has any recommendations for a great play therapist for anxiety?  And always remember that the chemistry between the therapist and the family has to mesh.  You can always see someone else if you don't think you mesh with a certain therapist.  Don't feel that all therapists are the same.   My mental health illnesses have a very poor prognosis without meds but my doctors always ask my opinion before changing my dose or my meds and if I'm comfortable with it.  Their goal is to make me feel in control of my mental health, not like someone is forcing me to do xyz in order to get better.  And your daughter's doctors should reflect that same attitude as well.  She should be made to feel like she's in control of herself, her body, and her actions.

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