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Separation/stranger anxiety increasing at 2 1/2???

585 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Lisalucy
I'm just wondering - my girls are getting more and more anxious around strangers and if I am away from them. Is this a fact of life for this age anyway, or is it due to our life situation changing (I'm now teaching music lessons at home, looking for preschool for them for the fall, going to need to be away from them most or all of the day at that point)? In either case, what can I do to help them through it, since unfortunately our separations from each other and their exposure to strangers is only going to increase. Thanks!
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My DD has always had fairly intense stranger anxiety. She is now 3 years and 3 months and is just now showing tolerance for social situations, but still desparately needs us to be close. She did go through some times where it would lessen and I would think it was passing, and then all of a sudden it would increase very sharply out of nowhere and she would be terrified of strangers. She even went through a phase at around age 2 1/2 where she really didn't like to leave the house because she was afraid people would talk to her. So, I think its normal for it so come and go.
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Ali is like that, only she says everyone is going to bite her. Yeeps!

So - I guess it's just normal for some children...??
Well, I guess it is normal for some children, but I swear there have been times, alot of times in fact, that I think to myself that This just CAN'T be normal. But she is just now showing signs of tolerating social situations. So, I suppose it may be normal.

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I think this is normal. My dd3 will be turning three in June. She has always been a super open/happy with anyone kid. She would go to anyone as a baby/young toddler. She was fine with me leaving. She was fine with Dad, with Grammy, with Auntie, with high school sitters, with the neighbor.

Well.... the last few months she has been clinging to my leg, acting shy around people we've known all her life, etc. It is a drag but it is just a phase. My dd1 and dd2 both did this and got out of it again. I honestly don't remember exactly when... I don't think it was too long though - as they both went to co-op preschool at just a couple of months (for dd1) and a couple of weeks (for dd2) after turning three. Both were totally fine. So it should pass fairly quickly.

I seem to remember something about equilibrium/disequilibrium in children running in six month cycles.

When my dd3 does it (acts shy, clingy, etc), it seems real but not terrifying if you kwim. I just try to act as though everything is fine (easy because it is) but don't force her to hug someone or be somewhere she doesn't seem to want to. She warms up with time. If she wants to hang on my leg while dd1's friend's mom is here talking to me, no biggie. She doesn't scream though so it is not really a problem for anyone but me (if I need/want to move around or tire of carrying her).

But I can imagine it would be harder with two! Try to hang in there; they'll grow out of it.
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Too young to be separated from you. Trust them. I highly recommend that you read supportive books and articles on the subject. I love Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves. It is for all ages and gives you understanding of your children and trust in their needs. I have a friend who taught violin with her baby next to her for a few hours each day. As the child got older she needed a baby sitter to be around but she still attended to her son while teaching. Consider it. What they want is what they need. That book will help you see deep into their hearts and souls.
Normal. Children do tend to cycle through intense periods on half-year anniversaries according to a series of books by Ames and Ilg (Your Two-Year-Old, ect.).

Also (and I'm not sure where to credit this theory; I think I heard it first at a LLL meeting) as children reach new milestones, both physically and intellectually, that enable them to be more independent, they also experience a coinciding clingyness/shyness. It's nature's counterbalance to help keep them safe.

Edited to add: It may be intensified if new separations are introduced during these intense periods. My personal feeling is always to honor that need when it occurs, but it may be that when fall comes around they may have "cycled" out of it.

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