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Ask Eleanor
Ask Eleanor, Family Counselor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1517
Experience:  Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist & Professional Counselor with 15 years of clinical experience
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My eight year old daughter seems to be suffering from separation

Customer Question

My eight year old daughter seems to be suffering from separation anxiety. I always thought she was my social butterfly but I'm noticing her reluctance to do any after school activities. Now she doesn't want to go to other friends home if I'm not there. This summer we enrolled her in a day camp and after much debate took her out after a week. The back story is that I was just treated for a serious illness. I'm ok and she didn't know the details but I was in the hospital for a while. Now any time we try to discuss a new activity or playdates, she freaks and says her belly hurts. This seems text book but I'm sort of lost. Also notice at school, she was friends with one girl and then decided not to be friends with her because she said she felt pressure.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Ask Eleanor replied 11 months ago.

Ask Eleanor :

Hello, I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has been working with clients on parenting issues for 20 year and am happy to answer your question.

Ask Eleanor :

Please tell me how you are doing; are you now well?

Ask Eleanor :

And are you at home with her now during the summer?

Customer:

Hi Eleanor- I live in NYC. Stay at home mom. Back in March I was diagnosed with appendix cancer after they thought it was ovarian. I had two major surgeries in seven weeks. Both requiring about a week in the hospital. I have two daughters 9 1/2 and 8. They think I just had my appendix out but I have a crazy scar on my stomach. My last surgery was may 30 and I'm about 95% back to myself. Tasha my 8 year old is staying home with me during the summer. My older one is special needs and goes to her school year round. Both my husband and I are unemployed but currently comfortable.

Customer:

I'm a social worker and even I know that her behavior is most likely attributed to my illness but I even called her on it and she said no but their little minds work in mysterious ways. She has always been one to shy away from new activities--I think because she doesn't want to "not do it well." She just seems more clingy these last few weeks. We traveled as a family all last summer and she said that this summer she thought we would do the same.

Customer:

I may have to go offline to make the girls dinner . . .

Ask Eleanor :

Thank you for providing me the additional information. Children are so very intuitive, as I am sure you know, and they pick up on things even if we do not tell them exactly what is going on. I would sit down with Tasha and tell her in an age appropriate way that you were very sick and it was scary but that you know you are going to be okay. Let her ask any questions she has about your illness and respond as appropriate. And spend extra time with her before school starts. Tell her that you are sorry you were sick and you could not travel this summer, but that you can still do some fun things together before she goes back to school. She just needs reassurance that you are okay and that things will get back to normal. When does school start?

Ask Eleanor :

I will go ahead with my answer as you may be making dinner. I would not give her any more warnings about figuring out what is going on with her, just try to relax and just be with her. If you are anxious, she will pick up on that and become more anxious herself. Even after school starts, spend some extra time with her. Think of it as making up for the time you lost with her while you were so sick. By the way, I am happy that you are okay.

Ask Eleanor :

I see that you are typing. I will pause for your response.

Customer:

Thank you! My husband thinks that I make myself too available but she is now refusing to do activities that she once enjoyed. She loved going to her friend's house and was perfectly comfortable with that mom and they had a dog (major bonus) but now she is not interested. I will chill out about the warnings. Believe it or not I'm a licensed social worker but specialty is geriatrics.

Ask Eleanor :

I believe you; it is always nice to help a colleague in the mental health profession. Sometimes it's hard to see things when we are so close, you know. Anyway, you are very welcome, my pleasure. I wish you and your family all the best, XXXXX XXXXX Eleanor

Ask Eleanor, Family Counselor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1517
Experience: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist & Professional Counselor with 15 years of clinical experience
Ask Eleanor and other Parenting Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 11 months ago.

Eleanor, how does this usually work? If I have future questions, can I request you? I've previously reassured Tasha that she "is going through something" and maybe we should go and talk to someone. Do you think that was not a great thing to say?

Expert:  Ask Eleanor replied 11 months ago.

Hi again. I would be happy to help you in the future, simply place "Ask Eleanor" at the beginning of your new question. I would not worry about what you have said to Tasha in the past. Just tell her that you have realized how hard the summer has been on her with you being sick and unavailable and that you want to make it up to her. I would avoid making it about her as it really is about all of you having to cope with your illness, I think. And I would not mention going to see someone again, things should settle in and work out without professional help. Children are so resilient and once Tasha feels that she has you back and you are safe and things feel normal again, she will be just fine. Again, it has been my pleasure to help and I wish you all the best, Eleanor

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