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Question
Posted by: Racoon | 2012/07/17

6 yo extreme separation anxiety

Dear Prof

My 6-year old son has developed extreme separation anxiety. It basically happens when I ask him to stay in the car when popping into a store for less than 5 minutes. I park right in front of the entrance, so he can see me, but he nevertheless has a complete meltdown if I take any longer than 1 minute. He goes to school independently and happily, so no problem there. Its only when we are running errands. The reason I ask him to stay, is because he has 2 smaller brothers, and it takes a lot of effort and time to get them out of and back into their car seats harnases. So thus not worth the effort for a quick pop in to return a dvd or buy milk? what could the cause of this be?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

There are a number of possibilities, but first it's necessary to calmly discuss this with him. Not in a way that would make him hesitate to admit what he's feeling fearful of , but maybe along the lines of being puzzled about why he is so admirably confident on his own in other situations, but so worried ( a better term than "scared" ) about these particular situations. Maybe he was scared when someone approached the car or tried to get into it, but speculating isn't as useful as hearing his own views on this. Maybe he could be asked to draw a picture of him in the car and what he fears might happen. I wonder whether he is identically worried when on his own in the car, as when he is there in charge of the younger children ?

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3
Our users say:
Posted by: Racoon | 2012/07/17

He has had for a while, but not nearly as bad as it is now. I don''t think he has heard of any kid-snatcher stories. maybe a good idea to chat with him and ask him.

Reply to Racoon
Posted by: Maria | 2012/07/17

Has it always been that way, or did it start suddenly? Is it possible that he was exposed to the ridiculous " stranger danger"  philosophy, and someone scared him with stories of kids being stolen?

Reply to Maria
Posted by: cybershrink | 2012/07/17

There are a number of possibilities, but first it's necessary to calmly discuss this with him. Not in a way that would make him hesitate to admit what he's feeling fearful of , but maybe along the lines of being puzzled about why he is so admirably confident on his own in other situations, but so worried ( a better term than "scared" ) about these particular situations. Maybe he was scared when someone approached the car or tried to get into it, but speculating isn't as useful as hearing his own views on this. Maybe he could be asked to draw a picture of him in the car and what he fears might happen. I wonder whether he is identically worried when on his own in the car, as when he is there in charge of the younger children ?

Reply to cybershrink

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