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Shawn Ware-Avant
Shawn Ware-Avant, Mental Health Professional
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 33
Experience:  Clinical professional for more than a decade. Trauma, Anxiety, Parenting, Adolescents, Couples
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My daughter is 7 years old and has always been outgoing and

Resolved Question:

My daughter is 7 years old and has always been outgoing and had no trouble separating from us or going to spend time at friend's and relatives houses. Within the last month, she suddenly gets "nervous" at the idea of not being around us. She's fine to have friends over to our house and school certainly doesn't bother her, but to spend time away from us at her friends or at grandma's seems to have her anxiety ridden. No physical symptoms exist other that crying when she knows we're leaving, but she seems to recover within a few minutes. Is this a normal developmental phase, or something more?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Shawn Ware-Avant replied 6 years ago.
Hi Sophie,

I'd like to help but would like to ask a few questions which might allow me to be more helpful in my response, Have there been any significant events recently which might impact her attachment to you (i.e. death of family member, long absence [for trip or illness], recent move)? Also, does it seem as though there are only specific places or individuals which impact her anxiety, or is it generalized to whenever she is separated outside of school attendance. I'll respond with some supportive guidance once I hear from you. Blessings!
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Nope, it doesn't seem to matter who's house it is, she's just generally anxiety ridden when she's asked over. No major events have passed, other than her teacher going on maternity leave and getting a long term sub that's not particularly warm and fuzzy. But again, school doesn't bother her at all. We're just lost.
Expert:  Shawn Ware-Avant replied 6 years ago.
Hi Again Sophie, Thanks for responding so quickly. (smile) Although it is not unusual for a child to have some anxiety when being separated from caretakers, it is not typical for a child who previously had no difficulty with detachment to suddenly have difficulty in the way you have described. It could be possible that her teachers absence to have her child may have had some impact on your daughter if you appreciate that we ALL process information initially by trying to correlate it to something we know. IF she has not experienced someone close, leaving due to a pregnancy, she may be trying to understand what this means and generalizing her absence to all relationships where she has attachments. Her routine has been disrupted, and this alone may be the source of some of her anxiety as well. Kids with separation anxiety disorder fear being lost from their family members and are often convinced that something bad will happen. You might consider consulting with your pediatrician, or even having a psychological evaluation to rule out other causes for her anxiety. Play Therapy is also a wonderful counseling intervention for children who are anxious, shy and/or not very verbal. In the interim, might I suggest creating a routine which is predictable for her and discussing any changes so that she is able to prepare. Perhaps accompanying her on visits to with friends (in their home or the community [such as a park]) to observer her interactions, encourage her play with other children and to rule out peer issues would also likely be beneficial. During visits with Grandma, you might interact together to reinforce that Grandma is a safe person and gradually spend less time with her during these outings assuring your return at "X"-time and following through. Never make promises that you are not certain you can keep, a better answer might be "I'm not sure we'll be able to do that" or waiting until you can be certain to reinforce that you continue to be the reliable and consistent parents she has always known. Hope this helps! Blessings (smile)
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