Posted by: Kel | 2009/08/27


Dear CS,

I am a single mom of a 2 year and 4 month old toddler. Her dad and I have been seperated since her birth, so we have a very strong bond.

I had a friend that came to visit the other night, in order for me to open the gate, I need to go outside, I did this but left my little girl in the house, I usually do this and she is fine, as it is literally for 1 minute. This time was different, I came back and she was screaming hysterically and crying for me. Once she had gone to bed, I let my friend out, and when I came back my daughter was standing by the door crying for me again. The other morning I had to hang washing out and it was cold, when I told her I was going to go hang the washing out, she was scared I was going to leave her, she actually messed in her panties.

I can' t even leave the room with out her being in my arms, and the other day she said to me  " Mommy, you' re not going to leave me hey?"  If she is in the bath and I go out the bathroom to get her towel, she cries hysterically as well...

Is this normal behaviour of a toddler her age, to have such fears like this? How can I help her through this as I am generally compassionate and give her reasurance that I am not going any where. This is quite draining and it is taking it' s toll on me.

Please can you give me some advise?

Thank you,

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Our expert says:
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At various ages, depending on the child and the circumstances, kids can get clingy and show Separation Anxiety such as you describe. Its puzzling when it seems to arise so suddenly, and may relate either to unpleasant events in the child's life, or to their simply reaching a higher developmental stage where they become more capable of recognizing that moms who go away and always come back, might not always come back.

Obviously at this age, it's not easy to discuss this with her, herself, in much detail, though one can still gently explore why she now fears you might not come back. Has there been any occasion(s) when you went out and for some reason came back later than expected, when she may have panicked alone, but might have quietened before you returned, so pwerhaps her distress on the occasion wasn't so noticeable for you ?

A chld psychologist would have more indirect ways to explore this with her, which could be helpful. You can also explore this theme with her in play with dolls and story-telling about the dolls, in which the older doll goes away, discussing with her how the baby doll feels, and emphasizing that the mommy doll will come back ; and in drawings, similarly

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

Our users say:
Posted by: James | 2009/08/27

If this now happening out of the blue then I would get her seen to. I would take to a child psychologist asap.

Reply to James

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