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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I can't go back and redo his childhood -- wouldn't really, bc every step of the way we did what we thought was right -- but I am feeling like my undying commitment to AP has resulted in a fearful, anxious child who truly believes that he cannot separate from me (or dh or GP or best friend) without experiencing trauma or bodily harm from "bad guys". Ds is almost 5 and will not go into a room alone, gets hysterical if I step outside the car to pump gas without unbuckling him from his car seat, and won't stay outside on our front porch with his brother for the time it takes me to walk 12 into the house to put something in the trash. He won't run upstairs to get a toy he wants, and won't allow me to leave the room without following me.

This child weaned himself (at least I think he has weaned), still co-sleeps, was not sent to preschool or any babysitters other than GPs, and continues to be worn on my back while I grocery shop. He has never seen any mainstream TV or violent books, but is afraid of characters on Dragon Tales and has seen some scary looking characters on displays in stores -- like Darth Vader.

Yes, there have been two life incidents that have worsened things: the birth of his brother (when he was 36 mos old) and a failed attempt at preschool (which he BEGGED for) but where he refused to be left (and wasn't, except for one morning when dh goofed and left him crying). We withdrew after staying with him there all morning for 6 weeks.

We have been so so so patient with this little guy's dependence. And we are fine with continuing to co-sleep and spending as much time with him as we possibly can (i.e. never any overnight trips away for me and dh!). But now I'm starting to wonder if there might be a problem here. It is seeming as if all the attempts at promoting attachment have just served to convince him that he cannot detach from us for even a split second. It's almost as if he's fine as long as he has ANY attachment figure (could be another child), but has absolutely NO self-confidence in being alone. Isn't he supposed to have some independent identity by now? (His almost 2 yo brother does!)

Some will advise that we seek help just for peace of mind, but if you've been doing AP for a while, you know that professionals who understand and support AP are few and far between. And I have neither the time nor the money for someone to rake me over the coal for co-sleeping or EBF -- I stand by those choices.

I guess I'd really like to hear from people who've been thru similar experiences with their children . . . who either outgrew it or didn't. Anyone?

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I don't think that there is anything wrong with encouraging him to be confident and independant (it's really not a dirty word).

It's hard to give advice about something like this without knowing you in person, but offhand, I'd suggest:

- Reading books by Gavin Debecker about safety and properly using fear

- Explain to him that you want some personal space and that there will be times during the day that you would like to be alone, though you will be in the building. Let him know when and how long the break time will be and stick to it.

- Have him walk when you go places. Tell him that he's five, he's heavy and he can walk next to you.

- Help him make some friends close to his age. Have them over and send them all outside to play. Don't go.

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I would also be concerned simply because you describe your ds as being anxious and scared-and no one wants to feel that way.

Like the poster before, I think confident and independent are good things to strive for and I think there are some simple ways to build self-confidence that can be in keeping with ap.

Does ds have any jobs around the house? Spending time cooking or doing other fun chores with you or helping his little brother might be a way to give ds a sense of achievement and power over his environment.

Does ds get any special benefits from being a big brother? Outings or treats that a just for big brothers, might help ds feel that older kid stuff is fun and exciting.

I would also have a conversation with ds about feeling scared, one that starts our "do you ever feel scared?" rather than, "I know you feel scared when..." Then you could talk about how everyone feels scared sometimes, but we find different ways to help ourselves feel less scared. Then if ds is amenable, you could come up with some strategies and keep trying them out.

Also, while I know a lot of mammas around here don't like those books where there are no adults to be found, a mellow book like Swallows and Amazons, where the kids go off on their own and have a good adventure, might be a good way to start conversations with ds about his fears and let him work through those fears.

in my house i keep talking about the qualities strong, brave, powerful, courageous, which i hope will be a help to the kids in the long run.


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hey breathe long time no "see" --

sorry you're having deal with this. y'know dd1 has always been pretty sensitive and would not leave the room w/o me for the longest time, but she really has seemed to grow out of that. she had that horrible awful heartwrenching period at playschool last year in october when we really did think about pulling her out, but we didn't. i'm not happy with the way we got through it ("you just need to leave her and there will be tears and she'll get through it, blah, blah, blah") and i never would have done that if she hadn't loved playschool in august and september. i do regret leaving her crying, but i felt a lot of pressure from all sides and the day dh and i were saying if "it doesn't get better tomorrow we'll pull her out" it did get better and she ended up loving it. i am totally not advocating nor would i expect you to leave your big little guy to cry (can't imagine you doing that!), but you asked for experiences of someone who had been through similar times, so there's that. she is so excited about school coming up in august, too (CIS) although i think the full day 5 days a week thing is going to be a surprise and may give me a heart attack. i think a lot of the velcro-ness dd1 just grew out of and she might have (probably would have?) worked her way through that rough spell at playschool w/o doing the throw her in the pool method of teaching her to swim/cope.

i did stop trying to be super AP mom (if i ever was close to that) probably around the time dd2 was 6 mo or so. i will actually go in the bathroom by myself now and shut the door. it makes dd2 really mad, but sometimes mama just wants a leetle bit of privacy and i don't necessarily think it's a horrible thing to learn that i will come back out in a minute. i will also give myself a time out when my temper is flaring which it does too often some days.

does your ds do any classes besides the homeschool coop? i think dance class may have helped dd1. we started when she was 3 because she absolutely loved it and i was in the same room with her, but on the other side of a bar-type half wall. she could come to me anytime, but i was not part of the class. there was a clear physical demarcation. since i had dd2 with me if dh couldn't come we occasionally had to step outside if the little one was too cranky. didn't do that much the first year (dh came most days), but this past year dh couldn't come so i did it a lot, of course for the most part she was doing okay being left at playschool, too.

i just sometimes shut the door and tell them "no" when i go in the bathroom or have to find a minute to quiet myself. it's not particularly AP and Alfie probably would disapprove, but it's an honest reaction and there's something to be said for that. if dd1 were freaking out about me going back inside to throw something away (which i could theoretically see happening, but not really since she totally lingers in the car getting in and getting out both) i think my genuine (not necessarily best) response would be to get grumpy and say through clenched teeth, "i'll be RIGHT back!" and go do it anyway. not very sympathetic or empathetic or AP, but there you go.

as long as i'm making confessions, i do find that dd1 pushes my buttons a bit easier than dd2. the little one has her own brand of intensity (and sheer VOLUME) , but it rarely drags on and on and on like dd1's. example, today we went to burlington city park (which is really fun, worth a trip) and we had about 45 minutes to ride all the carousel and all the rides and she started freaking out that the carousel was going to stop and she wasn't going to get to ride. i did not lose it and was very sympathetic, but she just anticipates and borrows trouble so much!! we had plenty of time for a ride!! we all had a great time, btw, after she chilled and got on the carousel.

have you read "Wemberly" by Kevin Henkes? i don't like everything about all his books, but i had to buy that one for dd1 because it's about mice (+++) and in particular a little girl mouse who worries too much (especially about going to school, so it might not be your bag, but might be worth a skim at the library).

anyway, no real advice there, but that's part of our story so far. hope things even out for you and hope the H.N.P. school is going well.


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12,443 Posts
Sorry to hear you are so frustrated. Remember that AP can't prevent ALL problems. Who knows what your child would have been like with other parenting?

My son isn't as anxious as your guy, but he's pretty cautious. For him, it's a combination of temperament and sensory issues. He gets so easily overstimulated that he cannot self-soothe.

If you're interested in counseling for him, I would suggest that you look into Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It's practical, straight forward and seems to work quite well. It doesn't focus so much on underlying 'causes' but on strategies to cope with the anxiety.

Have you tried introducing something like meditation or relaxation with him? Lori Light (Lite?) has some interesting books/tapes for kids, for example, A Boy and a Turtle: Visualization, Meditation and Relaxation Bedtime Story for Children, Improve Sleep, Manage Stress and Anxiety

What about diet? Or naturopathic remedies? There's a whole series of Bach's flower remedies for fears.

A couple of reading suggestions for you:
The Highly Sensitive Child
The Out of Sync Child

Some books on anxious children that I haven't read (well, I confess I read one of them, but because I checked it out from the library, I can't remember which one).

Freeing your Child from Anxiety
The Anxiety Cure for Kids
Your Anxious Child.. what parents and teachers can do...
Helping your Anxious Child (I think this is better for older kids)

Good luck!

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If you have insurance and it is an option to take him to someone, I would do that. I think it sounds like you could use some professional support. I don't think it is safe to assume that every therapist out there would rake you over the coals. There are lots of good ones out there and you can always phone interview first to find someone who is a good fit.

I've read several books about child anxiety and this is by far the best one out there.

It may also be good to work some on relaxation exercises with your son. I like this book: and this one

Our son has struggled with anxiety and I understand some of what you are expressing. One thing I would be aware of is that anxiety really doesn't get better all by itself. It may take some consistant gentle nudging to make it happen and it may not be easy for you to do, but it may be necessary.

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I'm watching this thread because my two year old could easily grow up to be like your ds.

My dd has peers whose parents are far more "AP" than I am, I think, but their kids are far more adventerous than my two year old... most kids are more adventerous than mine. She has a family history of anxiety and I see the potential for it. Some kids are just more cautious and introverted than others by nature. I don't think a counselor will assume that he's fearful just because you sleep with him. The behavior is extreme, even if a psychologist were to label yours an "overprotective" or "overly responsive" (or whatever) environment. Perhaps you could run the situation by a professional over the phone to feel them out before scheduling something.

I am learning that my daughter will fall into these things: Until I firmly assert that she CAN do something by herself, and insist she does, she will often continue to rely on me. This is a way for her to monopolize my time and attention - it is not always a need (but its not always clear so I try to give her the benifit of the doubt if it isn't obvious that she can do something herself). Also, if I rescue her too soon, she loses confidence in herself, so I am learning to let her get a little frustrated and even angry. She tries to put it on me, but as the adult, I feel its my job to know when it's my problem and when its hers. Frankly, the anxiety is her problem and I can only support her in finding her own ways of coping. I can't make it go away with a hug. There are some things she insists on doing by herself, like picking out her own clothes (ugh) but she doesn't run off and explore like other two year olds, or try new things without a lot of patience on my part. Today, however, after some nagging, "mommy come!!" and finally just climbing up the hill herself, she shouted with pride, "I did it!" And inside I was shouting with her. It can make a parent very insecure to have an insecure child, can't it? I tell others, "At least we won't have any trips to the ER."

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