Separation anxiety

cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Reply
Active scribe

Separation anxiety

My daughter is 14, for the past 3 years , since moving house, her going up to high school and her older brother going to uni she hasn’t wanted to be left in the house on her own.

she is now seeing a counsellor but we don’t seem to be making much progress. I can leave her on her own for approx 20-30 mins but have to phone regularly and can only do it when I have given her at least 24 hours notice.

i am finding it increasingly frustrating and feel trapped. I go from being supportive to telling her to sort it out.  I just don’t know where to turn and would really appreciate some advice.

Mod

Re: Separation anxiety

Hi @Debsy7680 , 

Firstly I'd like to warmly welcome you to the community, asking for help can always be difficult, and so you're very brave to have made the step forward to get support. 

The situation you've described about your daughter's separation anxiety sounds incredibly difficult, it's completely understandable that you are feeling trapped and frustrated. It's important to remember that therapy is often a very slow process and it can take some time before we see any results. In the same way that it can take a long time to break any bad habit (like smoking or eating unhealthy food), therapy works to help minimize or undo any bad habits that have formed around our mental health. 

It might help to ask your daughter's therapist about trying exposure therapy. It's a technique often used for specific phobias, where a person is gradually introduced to the thing they're frightened of in small, safe, increments. It could help to see if you could try an extend the amount of time that you're away from your daughter bit by bit, and doing this with the guidance and support of a therapist is something that could be very helpful. 

I also strongly recommend do some things to help benefit your own mental health. Talking to someone about these issues regularly, or engaging in your own self care might really help your own mental health, and reduce some of the stress and frustrations you might be experiencing. 

Hopefully you found this helpful! 

Active scribe

Re: Separation anxiety

Thank you Andrea , I will ask her counsellor about the exposure therapy next time I see her.
I feel controlled by her and trapped so know what you mean about looking after my own well being.
I talk to friends and family often but thought maybe on here I might find someone in a similar position to talk to
Thanks for your help

Kind Regards


Mod

Re: Separation anxiety

Hey @Debsy7680 

 

Just letting you know that I edited your post to remove your first and last name as it breached our guidelines (which can be read here) which ask all users to remain anonymous & not post any information that could lead others to identify you. I can see you're a new user which explains why you might not be aware of the guidelines, so feel free to have a read when you have some spare time. 

 

You mentioned you wanted to see if any other parents have any advice for you, so I've tagged some of our lovely users for their awesome input and support! Hopefully they can help. 

 

@JAKGR8 @PapaBill @sunflowermom @Orbit64 @mrskode @Buster01 @lost1971 @Dad4good @ConfusedMum 

Highlighted
Frequent scribe

Re: Separation anxiety

I had a similar experience with my son when he was 9 years old. His separation anxiety started due to bullying at school. I couldn't go anywhere without him. He wouldn't even sleep in his own bed. He slept on the floor beside me for nearly 12 months. I had to take him to a psychologist for counselling. It took lots of sessions and many months to overcome the anxiety. It was frustrating and a lot of hard work. i searched and found a very supportive school, that worked with me and the psychologist. It took alot of patience and empathy.
It is important to have a support network and take care of youself. Things will get better, but it does take time.
Mod

Re: Separation anxiety

Thank you for that support and advice @mrskode. That is really insightful and helpful. I imagine it must have been a really difficult time for yourself and your family. Your son is very lucky to have such a persistent, caring and patient parent Heart 

Active scribe

Re: Separation anxiety

Thank you for your replies. I think you are right it will take time , just want to know she will go on and lead a normal life and not have to constantly rely on someone being there.
Want her to be a strong independent woman and it worries me that she has these anxieties
Active scribe

Re: Separation anxiety

That’s really helpful . My daughter is on the floor above us and wouldn’t go to bed on her own. She has overcome that, she has slight ocd tendencies and has to check all the doors are locked before she goes to bed.
How old is your son now?
Did he get to the stage where you could leave him at home on his own?
Parent Community Champion

Re: Separation anxiety

Oh @Debsy7680 I hear your trouble! We just want it to be over and they are living day to day. Big hugs. 

 

I still have to give my 19 plenty of notice about big changes in our routine. Guess what? He is now living 1800km away on Uni campus (wouldn't cope with independent living yet) and loving it. I still get 1am phone calls about exam time but everyday is better. When I think back to what he was like as a toddler to where we are now we should be calling ourselves miracle workers. Having said that, at the time, at the worst times, we couldn't see an end and if someone had told us how long it would take we would never have made it this far. My message? Every day is a little better or different. Sometimes the goal posts move. They can move back. And it doesn't last forever.

 

Another thing to consider is that girls are 'copers'. They manage to get through childhood because they have higher emotional intelligence than many boys. So it might be worthwhile having a full medical check. Hearing, vision, psychological. What are they looking for? Auditory or other processing disorders, executive functioning skills, giftedness, allergies/intolerances, higher functioning autism. Our eldest was informally diagnosed as high functioning autistic and gifted. We didn't share that with others unless it impacted his day. As I have experience with similar behaviours we didn't need to get him coaching etc and he was very high functioning. He actually turned to me the other day and said he could have Aspergers and his sisters basically laughed and said duh! Where have you been?  How does this apply to your daughter? Girls are often diagnosed in their teens with autism or similar and anxiety is one of the bigger signs. Now I am not saying your daughter has autism just that there are other reasons for mental health to take a nose dive. It can't hurt to consider and look into it. 

 

Also if the counsellor isn't making much progress maybe she could change to another one. Is there one close? Maybe online.  We have had great results with EMDR

 

If you can't get away to look after yourself take can you take her with you? Talk about why you need to go for a walk, gym, shopping, book club, coffee. She can sit in the corner and read, or take part, especially the walks. One day you might hear, "Do I have to come?" It is the certainty of where you are and that you definitely coming back that gets reinforced this way. Has she lost connection with someone recently? 

 

Giving her fewer choices while at home can also help. In a reverse psychology sort of way. She can only watch TV shows you like, listen to music/podcasts/radio you prefer, use certain websites, do extra chores around the house, reduced access to social media etc. This can have two outcomes - it can help reduce anxiety as she doesn't have to make these choices or she can start to say this sucks and get out more. Not my first recommendation but it might work for you. 

 

You could verbalise your thinking about things so that she can hear how you work through your own struggles. Man did I get a reaction when I sat down at the table for breakfast and went through all my thinking for the day and that I didn't want to go to work! There, there Mum don't catastrophise, you'll get through it. Now get ready.  That came back to haunt them Smiley Happy But seriously, it helps to know they aren't the only one and it means she might share more with you.

 

You have found a great forum for support and ideas. Some days I just visit to know that my day isn't as bad as I thought it was. Take care and good luck. 

JA
Active scribe

Re: Separation anxiety

This all sounds really positive and the big thing I’ve raken from this forum is that I need to be patient. The goal posts are constantly changing and I feel like some days are one step forward and two steps back. It’s nice to hear that girls are ‘copers’ And I am constantly advising her on how to be a strong independent woman in the future . Hopefully it will all come together and I will one day be able to walk out the door and say ‘see you later’
Lol x