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  • Building Confidence

    Hello All,

    Dd1 has all of a sudden started having separation anxiety again. It started out small. Now it has escalated and I really would like to offer her more assistance in over coming it. When my girls were small we left all the toys on the main floor. Unfortunately our main floor is very small making it challenging to keep it organized. We decided to split the toys up. Some went in their bedrooms, some went in the basement and very little was left on the main floor.

    When dd1 has friends over she happily plays on the two floors without me (for example when I must be on the main floor to make supper or work on our website). But as soon as her friends go home she refuses to go to other floors. Even if I suggest she take dd2 with her. It has since started to escalate that she must be right beside me unable to play in a different room on the main floor.I realize that this is a normal developmental stage. I have talked to her and she is unable to identify why going to a different room or level is upsetting her.

    Just as a little bit of info dd1 has always been a high needs child. As a baby she refused to go to anyone but me. I am not surprised to see this problem crop up in my 5 year old. However, I would really like some suggestions or ideas on how I can help her develop confidence to be able to play comfortable in her room with or without me periodically.

    Thanks for the help!

  • #2
    Hello! This is a great question and a challenge that we have at our house too. I think that you are right that this is age appropriate, especially as children's imaginations develop yet they are still emotionally immature. Each strange noise, darkness or empty space under the bed can be a cause for concern. One of the best ways that I have found to help my children, ages 8 and 4, is to tell stories. I have specifically used the ideas in the two books by Susan Parrow, called Healing Stories for Challenging Behavior and Therapeutic Storytelling. The concept is you develop a story that addresses the behavior and presents a resolution in the story. You then tell this story to your child, you might do it at bedtime, and you might do it for weeks or even months. The purpose of the story is that it allows some healing or resolution to take place within the child. They are not forced to confront their fears head on, they are supported to grow through the process, using the story as a guide and inspiration. So, for example in your situation, you might make up a story using a favorite animal who has a similar challenge. Perhaps tell a story about a squirrel who was scared to climb trees. You can fill in details as appropriate and give a triumphant ending where the squirrel is able to overcome his or her fears and is able to climb trees. Perhaps the squirrel tries several times to climb the trees and is still too scared. Then an owl gives her an amulet that she wears whenever she needs to be brave. She wears the necklace and finds she has the confidence to climb the tree....she can do it! She can climb trees without fear whenever she needs to. She even finds that she likes it. She can build a good, safe nest. But one day she loses her necklace but she doesn't notice and she is still able to climb the trees and get to her safe and cosy nest. Maybe the owl points this out to her and she realizes she doesn't need the necklace any more. If would be wonderful, if a simple necklace appeared on your daughters bedside table a few days into telling this story. you don't even say anything about it and perhaps it becomes her safety necklace which allows her to be brave enough to venture places where she is scared to go. So, this is just my idea for a story, but you could develop one that your child would like and incorporate it into your day on a regular basis. The books I recommended also have lots of stories you could use or modify if you don't want to make one up. I was able to get the books from inter library loan, though I do own a copy of her most recent book. I have found that using stories really supports my children and meets them where they are. They often ask for a particular story to be told over and over and then I see the resolution come about one day in their own behavior. It has been very healing for me and them. I hope this helps! Warmly, Kathryn

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