Extreme Separation Anxiety

Posted 08-31-2012 at 11:48 AM by whitneywalters

My three year daughter has developed a severe case of separation anxiety lately. We have no idea what caused it either. She used to love going to her Sunday school class but one Sunday about five weeks ago she decided she did not like it anymore. She started bawling when I took her in, clung to me and just said she needed me over and over again. So I let her come upstairs but that only lasted a little while before she was being loud so I ended up going down in the nursery and staying with her. The next week we tried again and she reacted the same way, this time I ended up staying with her in class, the first half of class she wanted nothing to do with the other kids, she sat on my lap with her face buried in my shoulder, eventually she started interacting a little and the last ten minuets she would would do stuff with out me right there.

I took some time with her teacher ( who is also the head of the Children’s Department at our church ) and asked her if she knew if anything had happened during class to make her afraid to go in but she could not think of anything. She did offer to let Kairi try to cry it out but I am not comfortable with that in the least. I do not do it as babies, I am not going to start as a toddler. I know her cry and she does not calm down after a couple minutes. She would scream until we came back, I won’t do that to her and I do not think it is fair to the other people in the class.

Church is not the only place she acts this way either. She is willing to stay with her Grandparents for a few hours some of time but she gets panicked if we are gone very long. She gets anxious if we go somewhere and one of us in not in her sights at all times.

It is a strange situation. She had separation issues when she was younger but it had been fine until just recently. She had been fine with staying with grandparents or my sister on the rare occasions that my husband and I actually go anywhere with out the kids. It is to the point now that I dread leaving because I know she will get upset.

I hope we can figure something out soon because I would like to be able to go to service and have her actually like being in class again. For now I think my husband and I are going to take turns staying with her and just hope this phase does not last very long.

Filed Under: Mommy Talk

Comments

8 Responses to “Extreme Separation Anxiety”

  1. rescueremedies on August 31st, 2012 12:28 pm


    We have the same issues with our toddler, but he has always been this way. For the short time he went to daycare about 2 mo. He never got over it he would cry every single day. And he was very whiny and sort of withdrawn when he would get home everyday. Not like my boy at all. I don’t think it is any single thing that has happened, because we had tried two different times with 2 different day cares. He has never liked going to church nursery and always just screamed the whole time. Last year he would cry everyday when the kids went to school, though this year he hasn’t. But, anytime we drop off one of the other kids to spend the night he will cry “My Lukie, my Lukie” He seriously has huge separation anxiety issues, but, I’ve always wondered if it is because he is the youngest of 5. I wish they had psychologists for 3 yr old’s. (Sigh)

  2. Krista B. on August 31st, 2012 12:53 pm


    We are in the very same boat. I don’t have any suggestions…only the encouragement that we’ve been told by our attachment parenting counselor that this is completely normal and, yes, a passing phase. We, as parents, haven’t done anything wrong…always a relief to hear! I was actually encouraged to hear that another parent of a 3-year-old was experiencing this. We have the same situation with church and with not being able to leave our 3-year-old’s sight. My unprofessional opinion based on my child’s behaviors and MO is that he does the whole separation anxiety phase, then goes through a phase of going out confidently to explore, and now is in another phase of separation anxiety. I believe it’s just boundary-testing and very healthy and normal. It’s actually been a good opportunity for me to remind him that we are always here for him and won’t ever leave him alone. Take heart and be kind to yourself…these are hard days. Good…but also hard.

  3. New cloth lover on August 31st, 2012 12:57 pm


    I know this is hard to hear, but I’ve worked in many childcare settings and the best thing to do is allow her to be comfortable without you sometimes. She knows you’re going to come back and nothing is hurting her. When little ones don’t get what they want, what do they do? Scream. It’s very unpleasant for all involved. My two year old daughter just started this when I go grocery shopping after she’s in bed. And I go anyway. Over the last two weeks she has calmed down and happily waves to me, and blows kisses when I leave. You should leave her with those she’s comfortable with (maybe not the church nursery for a while) and extend the time you’re gone every time. Let her bring something special that she only gets when you’re away. This WILL pass :)

  4. rescueremedies on August 31st, 2012 5:30 pm


    New cloth Lover:

    You are right my first four children responded very well to those methods, and most children will. This 5th one is just different though, it is crazy. But, I think most children eventually do get better with time, and once they realize you are not going to change it by thier crys.

  5. NevadaMama on August 31st, 2012 5:55 pm


    My 2 1/2 year old DD has just started doing the SAME thing! She was very clingy when she was younger but got over it quite awhile ago, now she is doing exactly what your DD is doing, even refusing to play with other kids and hiding her face. Even when I leave her with DH she is a mess, and constantly asks where I am. I hope it will pass soon because it’s driving me crazy!

  6. CraftyYoginiMama on August 31st, 2012 9:23 pm


    Trust your instincts, Mama! You know what is best for you child.

  7. nambrata22 on September 1st, 2012 10:25 am


    My daughter has anxiety issues too. I tried to leave her as little as I could. Sometimes I had to leave her. But, trust your instincts and don’t leave her in the nursery. Also, remember that everything is in stages, and some stages come and go. It looks like this stage of intense anxiety has returned, and trust that it will go when she is ready to let it go.

  8. TrennaII on September 1st, 2012 7:42 pm


    I agree that your instincts are right, against crying it out. It may “work” but not without side effects.

    Our naturopath helped us through starting daycare. At first she suggested pulsatilla (helps a baby be OK with being put down), but we put together that LO was less clingy than anxious, so we use arsenicum album. It’s hard to say what is the right remedy for each child.

    There are more general remedies too … Bach’s Rescue Remedy (for stress) can help, as can their Larch blend (specific to increasing confidence). And Hyland’s Calms Forte 4 Kids.

    For us, arsenicum 5 pellets a day in the morning for a week was great. Daycare mentioned an instant change and it just got better over the week. We have to “boost” when the symptoms return, which is about once a month.

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