Separation Anxiety



How do you deal with the feeling that your difficult child is trying to :censored2: the life force out of you? I love my son dearly (though I don't always like him lol). But one of his issues involved anxiety and fears of being alone. It was one thing when he was 6 and 7 but he's almost 9 now. I can't leave the room sometimes for goodness sakes. He is just so needy. He won't allow me to sleep one minute past when he wakes up. I suppose I made the mistake of giving into him these years. I allowed him to give me that short leash.

When he goes to his dad's for an overnight, he'll often call me homesick and crying hysterically to come home. Ex is baffled and has no idea what causes this shift. I've let him come home but I think I've done the wrong thing (again lol). I have to step aside and let him figure out nothing bad is going to happen if I'm in another room etc.

I suppose I have to work on these things to change them. I believe that he has to work on his anxiety alone to some extent, you know learn some coping skills.

I just wondered if anyone out there can relate.

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
Oh yeah. I can relate!

Nichole. OMG! Her whole life she refused to be in a room alone. I've noticed that she still won't although she's much more subtle about it now. She gravitates to rooms where there are other people or even the pets. If she has to use the bathroom, say to shower or whatever, she's super quick about it.

I never gave into it. Thankfully I recognized it as seperation anxiety from the beginning. It didn't make life any easier for either of us. And I always found it more of a major problem with outside influences such as preschool, school, or sleeping over at someone's house.

My refusal to give in to it only made it stop centering around ME. It didn't make the anxiety go away. It taught her how to cope with it. When she was younger I simply ignored the behavior, even if it caused a meltdown. (and it often did) And then would give a consequence for the meltdown. (like timeout)

I did notice that having the pets around helped. I think because Nichole could have the dog in whatever room she was in and therefore didn't feel like she was "alone". Same with just about any other pet she's had, and there have been many from gerbils to turtles to dogs and bunnies. lol

Honestly I think it's been the hardest issue to deal with. Sure the mood swings and meltdowns aren't fun. But I know how to cope with that. The seperation anxiety, well, all I can say is that I did my best.

Nichole nearly backed out of going to college this summer do to it. I was proud of her for realizing it and going anyway. :smile:


Well-Known Member
Oh boy, I'm the resident expert on Separation Anxiety!! My son will be twelve in Oct. and it's still severe, though a tiny bit better than it used to be.

When we moved into a new house we let him pick which bedroom he wanted, and it was next to the Master, of course. Prior to moving (6 mo ago) he's slept on our bedroom floor since he was out of the crib. I put the kabash on him sleeping in our bed, but it was almost as bad. I had to crawl over him if I got up in the night to go to the bathroom. Anyway, back to him picking a bedroom. All was fine for a short while with him sleeping in his new room. Lately, he's sneaking into our room at night to sleep on the floor again. I scolded him (he maintains he has no idea why he does it, but he's aware that he's doing it. Not like he's sleep-walking.), so now he sleeps in the threshold of the doorway into our bedroom. So now he can say he's NOT in our room! ARG!! Our son has major anxiety issues and this is one of the worst. When husband takes him to the movie, it's nothing for difficult child to call me just to see what I'm doing. He used to sneak into the nurse's office at school and call me from there. He still calls me from a friend's house....for absolutely nothing. difficult child has ONE friend and he's now slept over about three times...that's why I say it's a tiny bit better. Every time I ask a therapist how I should address it, they tell me that's the least of his worries. *Sigh*...still doesn't make it any easier! I wish I had some encourgement, but as you can see, nothing has worked. We've tried it all....


Active Member
I don't think there is any one way to deal with this. You have to know your child and work with them in ways that you as a family can handle. Whereas Daisylover took the don't give into it approach, the method that worked with my difficult child was whenever possible to give him the emotional nurturing and security he needed when his anxiety was severe and nudge him along when he was more stable. We looked for ways at every turn to make difficult child feel more secure in separation situations so he could develop the coping skills he needed. If he was scared to sleep in his room, we let him sleep on the sofa instead. When he was afraid for me to leave the room, we hauled the baby monitor back out so he knew I was only an inquiry away. When I had to leave the house, he came with me if it was do-able. If it wasn't then I made sure to show him my cell phone, leave him a note where I would be and what time I was expected back--he knew he could call at any time. We worked on supports to help him separate--for school that was a list of what I needed to take care of (saying goodbye, etc) and him selecting a pair of stuffed animals (one for his backpack and one for me to take with me through the day to help him feel connected to me). When he was terrified to leave the house at all, I scheduled date nights once a week where he got to pick a place (toy store, ice cream, etc) to go after I picked a place (errand or anywhere just for an excuse).

My difficult child's anxiety started kicking in around age 3, heightened around age 5, and hit the just barely functional stage around age 7. He'll 11 now and separates easily from me, goes to school with ease, and can handle most of the things we do as a family. There are certain situations which give him trouble such as a crowded museum or a club meeting with mostly strangers but overall he's made significant forward progress. With my difficult child though, I never felt like I made a mistake giving into it, I felt it was what he needed to feel emotionally secure enough to take the next steps on his own.

Good luck with this. I know what hard years those can be.