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MomTalk.com November 24, 2017:   The women's magazine for moms about children, family, health, home, fashion, careers, marriage & more


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Fears Come From Somewhere: Sylvia Rimm on Raising Kids


By Sylvia Rimm


Q. My son is 8 years old and has always been a "normal" child without any major problems. Recently, for the past six weeks, he's been exhibiting severe separation anxiety. For example, before this, I'd be able to leave him and my 10-year-old daughter in the driveway of a friend's house while I ran something up to the door; I can no longer do that. He insists on going with me. He's like this with anyone he's with, including my husband, my mother and my father. At times when I've made him stay, he's cried, and when I've asked him what was wrong, he's said he thinks I'm going to be shot or hurt.


My children don't go to a babysitter's house. I'm a stay-at-home mom, but I'm not an overly clingy mother. My son does play some video games, but nothing that's unsuitable for his age and not for extended periods of time. He only watches appropriate television shows, and the kids he plays with are good kids. I don't know what's putting these thoughts in his head.


Can you help me? It's quite frustrating, and I'm trying to be patient, hoping that "this too shall pass." I've never seen this problem, at his age, addressed before. Thank you so much for your attention and advice.


A. When an 8 year old becomes fearful very suddenly, there's usually an experiential cause. It's possible that someone is harming your child and threatening to harm others if he tells on them. That, of course, is the worst case scenario, but one that you'll want to check out carefully by asking him privately if anyone has said or done anything mean to him.


It's also possible that a movie or television show has frightened him, or that something has happened to a friend's family. Even then, it would be better if you could reassure him that he can talk to you about his fears in private. If you ask him in front of his sister or other family members, he may feel too frightened or embarrassed to share his story. You have to provide him privacy at a time when you're not hurried so that he can find the courage to share with you.


If you can't discover the underlying problem and your son's anxiety continues for a few more weeks, I definitely recommend you take him to a psychologist. Although children his age do experience fears, his behavior is somewhat extreme for an 8-year-old who wasn't easily frightened before. You have to believe that he's learned this fear from something or someone, so you shouldn't take it lightly. Of course, if it disappears as quickly as it came, then you can assume he's forgotten about the frightening experience and it wasn't too serious. In that case, you won't have to pursue it further.


Dr. Sylvia B. Rimm is the director of the Family Achievement Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, a clinical professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the author of many books on parenting.
COPYRIGHT 2006 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.



Categories: School-Age, Advice, Ideas & Stories, Children,

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