Home Alone: The Anxious Child

Anxiety and Kids – When they’re scared to be alone. Irrationally so.

I know that this conundrum is nothing new. And having looked after little children who have a tendency to latch on to my knee and get in under my feet, I know what it’s like. Hello, can I please just have 5 seconds in the bathroom. Alone?! 5 seconds, that’s all. So I’m well aware that having a perpetual shadow is just part of the job.

But is it still normal for a six-year-old to be doing this? To have grown out of the phase years ago and to now find herself revisiting it?

It’s a recently developed thing, but something that is growing steadily worrying, particularly now that the Summer School Holidays are upon us. Long days spent hanging with Miss Charlie that if not careful could slowly begin to undo my carefully crafted routine, my own sanity, and quite probably, that of her own.

So I sat her down and explained that she shouldn’t be worried. That she was at home, safe and sound and in my care. That all of the doors and windows were locked and the garage is security gated. More so, I assured her that I was not going anywhere; that I was there all day to look after her and no one was going to leave her alone. That Mummy was only down the street at work and knowing her, was likely to pop in for lunch. Even further, I re-explained that the house is approximately 30m down from a police station, that the street is lined with police cars coming and going and that I also just so happen to have my very own police officer on speed dial. I think we’re covered.

Even with this reassurance however, she still feels the need to call out to me every 30 seconds. From where she is on the couch to me in the kitchen, or the laundry, or the dining room and even, annoyingly, when in the bathroom. Of course I don’t just wander off. Each time I move I give her an update as to my movements, as if I am my own personal gps tracker.

Yet each time she still feels the need to call out, leaving me to answer with ‘yeah I’m here, what’s up?’. And she then says, ‘nothing just checking’ and that would be that until I move again. I think maybe someone forgot to tell me we’re playing marco polo or battleship. Yesterday, things escalated to tears and a meltdown when I told her I was taking Baby Viv upstairs to put her down for a nap. Needless to say I almost considered the idea that maybe an afternoon nap was best for Miss Six too!

Such is the dilemma I’m facing with Miss Charlie.

I brought the issue up later with Boss Mum but she didn’t seem too concerned. She said it was likely just a phase she was going through and that a while ago they’d accidentally forgotten to tell Miss Charlie they were going to clean the garage. 45 minutes later they’re met with a frantic little girl who thought she’d been forgotten and left at home.

This anxiety that she’s experiencing, defined as being ‘apprehension without apparent cause’, is perhaps not anything out of the ordinary. Most children experience various forms of anxiety, fears and phobias from time to time. It can be a real challenge for parents to face and often invest much time into helping their children to work through these concerns.

So whilst being respectful to BM and accepting that it probably is just a phase, I’m also going to do my best to help Miss C with this over the school holidays. Because this seems like something worth investigating to me, and I know that she should never have occasion to feel anxious nor scared.

Little girls and little boys need to know that they feel safe and are being looked after at all times.

  • Anyone else had issues like this?
  • Any suggestions?

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One response to “Home Alone: The Anxious Child

  1. I understand how frustrating it must be to not be able to move of sight for more than a few seconds. I think the important thing here is to find out the cause of the anxiety and the fact that you are going to work on this over the summer holidays is a good thing. Sometimes when asked, and given the time to do so without interruption or having ideas put in their heads, children are able to express their thoughts and feelings and work through the issues, just as adults are. I think the reassurance you are providing should help to break the pattern of anxiety which seems to be happening at the moment. I look forward to hearing how you all go.

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