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8 year old with separation anxety

I need help in my 8 year old with separation anxiety. It is hard for me to live and my daughter. My daughter has been exposed to a lot of separation at such a young age. At the age of 3 my daughter's dad was no longer around until the age of 6 when the foster care system contacted him to reunify them when I lost her to the system. So in time she reunified back to her father's care and out of foster care. I was still fighting the system and my addiction to alcohol. When we started to see one another more and things where getting better I relapsed and went to rehab where I spent 3 months with only an hour and a half a week with her. After leaving the program I got to have her all the time.

Lots of sleep overs and such at my home where I stayed with my boyfriend. I relapsed again and the courts decided to terminate my probation and have me sit my time off in jail, and got a 6 month sentence where i served about 3. Tried visits but it was too hard for her and so stopped the window visits and just seen her for 40 min a week on video.

When in jail I broke up with boyfriend and moved out into her father's house... Not sure about the idea and against my better instinct I moved in. After about a month I started seeing my boyfriend again to try and work things out. Now she can't stand when I leave (which is to be expected) even if just for a few days. She tries to hold back but gets really sad and starts to cry.

I try to be strong, but after I still go I feel extreme guilt and sadness. I always reassure her, but it does not help. Now I am sure I am not doing something right and though it may be right in front of my face I/m not seeing it on what to do. Can you please help me in what you feel I may be doing wrong and help me in ways and even steps to help us both be happy and comfortable again. Thank you so much for your time.


Hello.

Thank you so much for sharing your vulnerability and your story about your daughter. This kind of disrupted attachment will certainly cause a lot of anxiety in children.

It is obvious that you want what's best for your child and have had many hurdles and obstacles to overcome to get back your custody of her. Once a child is in the system, you have to work VERY hard to get them back. I worked with foster care children and their birth parents so I know how this works. You must be quite an amazing person.

The best thing that you can do at this point is work consistently to be a safe predictable person for her. This likely means helping yourself with therapy, consistent meetings, surrounding yourself with supportive people, and making good choices to care for yourself and your mental health. Doing that will enable you to be the strong caregiver that can predictably meet her needs on an ongoing basis. That will help build her sense of safety and security and decrease those anxious behaviors.

Good luck to you and your daughter.

Kristen McClure

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