Help me help my 3yo get past the trauma... - Mothering Forums

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Old 10-31-2008, 12:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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About 5 weeks ago, we were invited to dinner at a friend's house along with another family. We are all close, but don't get to see each other often. When it was time to leave I couldn't find my car keys and searched the entire house. My girls were in the bedroom playing with all the other kids and my friend suggested checking if I'd left the key in the ignition. So, I just went out to check (car was parked in front of the house)..I was gone for only 2 minutes or so...

I come back and my 3yo DD is sobbing hysterically and hyperventilating. I hugged her and told her I just went to look for the key and mama's here now and sorry I went out without telling you etc...As I'm comforting her, my friend says "Oh, I'm really sorry, she came out of the room and asked 'where's mama?" and I told her You were a bad girl so your mama left you and is not coming back."

I lost it.
Me: "WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU EVER SAY THAT TO HER?!?!?"
DF: "I say that to my daughter all the time. I didn't think she'd react that way"
Me: "Well, maybe you shouldn't say that to your daughter! Obviously that's pretty traumatizing to a little kid. I don't EVER say my kids are 'bad', EVER, and now she comes out of the room looking for me and 1. you tell her she's bad and 2. you tell her I'm leaving her?!?!"

She felt really bad, and yes, I still consider her a friend, she made a REALLY horrible choice though and now it's affecting my daughter soooo much.

DD is quite attached to me, but she'd at least go to grandma's house to visit without me. NOW, after this incident, she is absolutely terrified to be away from me. She is hyperventilating at the thought of being apart. My mom (who they are very close to and we see often) asked her a couple times if she'd like to come over and dd LOST it and is in hysterics and running to me with tears just flowing saying she wants me to go with her and she can't be away from me etc. She is in tears several times a day over things like me going to the store and she thinks I'm not taking her (even when I am), or like last night her and i were goin to get something but my older dd was staying with dh at home and and the 3yo is crying and crying about me "leaving" her older sister and her older sister being "all alone"..

A couple days ago my older dd wanted to visit a friend's house and dh was going to drop her off while he went for prayer services. Younger dd, though it took a little convincing, agreed she wanted to go too. Dh dropped them off and within about 10 minutes, my friend calls me saying "(dd's name) is crying like crazy, here talk to her"...I hear my friend in the background telling dd 'you need to breathe sweetheart' and coaching her to keep her from hyperventilating. I spent 1.5 hours on the phone with her, singing, reading books, talking, trying to calm her down and she literally screamed the entire time. Nothing I or my friend did would calm her down. I paged my dh twice with URGENT messages to go pick her up but he never got the msgs and ended up picking them up at the time we originally agreed on.

That night while we were talking, I asked her about her day ...I often ask what was the best part of ur day and what was a not-so-great/worst part of their day. She, of course, said that the worst part was when she went to her friend's house...I asked her why she was so upset and she said "because I thought you were coming with me" and I said "But when you realized I wasn't going with you, why didn't you go play until baba came to get you, you don't always have to think about me" and she said "Yes I do, because I love you."

What can I do/say to help ease her fears? She's even waking up at night and keeping the whole family awake and we are all getting really worn out.

I know she needs time/patience, but has anyone else experienced something like this..how did your dc get past it...

Helping women overcome postpartum depression and birth trauma. http://www.postmommyhood.com

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Old 10-31-2008, 12:24 AM
 
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Ooh. I have no advice but I am sorry you are going through this. I have one friend that I could imagine saying this -- her humor is pretty flippant and she doesn't totally get kids.
I hope you get some good advice, this must be heart wrenching for you.
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Old 10-31-2008, 12:45 AM
 
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At age 3 my Dh in a very bad move left Dd alone in a car in a parking lot. she was terrified...she was visibly shaken for a looong time. (she is very sensitive anyway)
what we had to do was give her a comfort item everytime we went anywhere in the car. She also held a picture of me when she was in the car.

Rescue remedy worked sometimes. I told her they were flowers that were supposed to help her feel calm. This way the placebo effect had an advantage also.

I think if you can recreate the situation with your Dd and change the ending to happier one that may help, too. (I got that advice form a neighbor who is child psychologist) I wasn't sure if changing the ending was a wrong thing to do but she said it was fine but let the child make up the happy ending.

Good luck...it took my Dd a long time beofre she could even talk about it.

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Old 10-31-2008, 02:55 AM
 
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I can't offer advice but....

Ahhhh!!!! What insensitive thing to say to a child (esp. a friend)! Actually, I can imagine my MIL saying something like that. And, I know that both of our children would not take it well....for a long time.

DS had a traumatic incident (dh went to the dentist for a 7am appt. but didn't wake ds up to say goodbye). It took a while for him to be able to be at peace and sleep well again. We reassured and allowed him to process it. In the meantime, we walked around like zombies from lack of sleep.
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Old 10-31-2008, 03:03 AM
 
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I don't have any advice, except to stay away from "friends" like that:

I would be very mad if someone I knew did that to my child.
I would NEVER EVER say something like that to any child.

Some people

There's nothing you can know that isn't known. ~ John Lennon
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Old 10-31-2008, 03:30 AM
 
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Wow. I am almost in tears just reading this, just to think that someone could say something so very horrible to a little child. Good god.

Considering that her trauma has gone on so long, if I were in your shoes I think I might look around and see if I could find a good child psychologist - one who does play therapy - who might be able to help provide me with the tools I need to reconstruct her obviously shattered sense of security.

I also like reconstructing the evening with a better ending.

And just keep telling her you love her and would never leave hear as many times a day as she needs to hear it. I have to think it will eventually override that one incident.


Wife to Thomas, WAH mama to Sofia Rose 8/04, Ellen Marie 10/07, her twin sister Amalie Joy lost 7/07 , and Maya Grace and Hannah Miriam 4/10
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Old 10-31-2008, 04:21 AM
 
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Oh, mama, what an awful, terrifying experience for your daughter. I would be careful about using language that you would never "leave" her because she may not be able to distinguish between you leaving her for a few hours at Grandmas or you leaving "for good", which is what she really fears. I would focus on explaining that you or DH will always "come back" for her, like you always have before, and how much you love her.

When my DD was 18 months, we had an incident that made her scared of the dark...a bit easier to deal with as it only cost us a few extra bucks in electricity, but it did take her a few months to get over it (to put your 5 weeks in perspective). Nevertheless, I agree with the PP that suggested some sort of play therapy to get her past her fears as quickly as possible.

Hugs to both of you!

Apparently doing it rong and ruining it for everyone, but I don't give a crap anymorebanana.gif

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