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Anxiety and Stress Disorders (Children)

Anxiety in my Five and A Half Year Old

04/08/2008

Question:

My daughter has seemed to develope an extreme amount of anxiety recently. I have been a working mom since she was 2 months old. She has been in the same school since she was 2 1/2. About a month or so ago she seems more upset than usual when I leave for work. It used to be about once a week or so that she would ask me not to go to work but recently its an everyday occurence that she cries when I leave and also says she doesn`t want to go to school. I have spoken to her teacher and all appears fine, the teahcer has kept a close eye on her (there are only 12 students in her kindergarten class) and she sees no issues. Once she is in school she is fine, its the anticipation of getting her there. She makes her grandmother call my husband or I every morning and we have to try to calm her down. She also seems to dwell on other things that aren`t a big deal but it matters to her, like knowing when she is being picked up, if she can come home early or she is always questioning times of daily things. She is a very happy child and has a great personality besides these few things. Most people don`t even notice anything but I know her and know what all those questions really mean. I would like to know how I can handle this? I am also faced with another dilemma, I have a business trip I need to go on next week, for 5 days, should I not leave her, will this possibly leave her devasted. She will be with her dad and grandparents. Please help.

Answer:

Separation anxiety occurs in children from about age 2-6 with lessening degree as children get older and accept, even welcome separation from parents. I would think you could take your business trip with adequate preparation but realize that your child’s struggles for autonomy does involve anxiety at being separated. Support and help from your child’s pediatrician might help you feel better about these struggles.

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Response by:

Floyd R Sallee, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati