Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Separation Anxiety

Poor little Witt.

2009 has been a year of change for us all, but he's taking it the hardest. Daddy is gone many days a week (sometimes full weeks) and the family left for a week's vacation in June without him.

When we returned from our vacation, he began crying for me to sleep in his room. I would lay in the spare bed that was in there until he fell asleep and then sneak out to go sleep in my bed. When he woke in the middle of the night, he would cry for me because I wasn't in there. I finally started bunching up the comforter and pillow to make it look like I was still in bed and that worked for a little while.

Then we moved to a new home which landed him a new room. We've started attending a new congregation which means new classmates, new teachers, and a new classroom. He literally falls apart if we leave him alone in the class, so my MIL has started staying with him.

Last month, he decided he wanted a new bed. That wasn't a problem for a couple weeks, but then...

While Nana was here, I made a quick trip to the grocery store while the kids were napping. Little did I know that Witt woke up as I was leaving. He watched me leave and cried the whole time I was gone. He rarely let me out of his site after that.

Then, on Friday, I took both Nathan and Will to school and a field trip. Although Witt loves staying with his Gran, Nathan has always been with him when Will has on-campus days with school. My MIL said that he would look around every so often with a, "Nay? Will?" looking for his brothers.

So now, he's back to BEGGING me to sleep in his room. A few nights ago, I began by laying in bed with him, but then decided to just sit on the floor instead so I could sneak out of his room easier. He did not like me sitting on the floor. He wanted me in that bed next to him, but I wouldn't give in and he finally fell asleep.

The next night I brought in a chair and sat on it. There was a little less argument. The following night, I moved the chair into the doorway. The actual door was between he and I so he couldn't see me, but he sure kept asking, "Ma? Chair?"I reassured him that I was still there and he finally fell asleep.

That night he woke up crying and I made the mistake of letting him come to bed with us (Jeff finally made it home from California!!). That night he wanted to sleep in our bed. Not happening, though! Jeff and I have just never been ones to have a child in bed with us.

So finally, last night, I had the chair out in the hallway next to his door. He went to sleep with little reassurance and slept until 1:30 when we heard a blood-curdling cry. We both hopped out of bed and ran to his room. There stood Witt staring at the empty chair freaking out that I was not in it.

I slept the rest of the night in his bed with him until he woke me up at 6:30 telling me he wanted to get down.

So, where to go from here? Well, I have one last option. Today after naps, I am moving both Will's and Nathan's beds into Witt's room. I am hopeful that the extra company will help him. I know the boys will enjoy being together, too. Plus it will give us a playroom for all the toys.

Jeff is working locally all week this week and I don't want to be spending my nights in Witt's bed.

I want to be sensitive to Witt as I know it is an honest fear for him, and I certainly haven't been intentional about leaving him alone. I suppose a little extra attention during the day is in order. I just really don't know what to do next that would be a good compromise for the both of us. I am a mom to two other little boys and a wife as well. I can't be at Witt's beck-and-call every moment.

So, any suggestions on dealing with separation anxiety in a 2 1/2 year old? After moving the beds, I'm out of ideas.



MommyK said...

I'm pretty sure that some separation anxiety is normal at this age, even without all the changes. I'd check out Elizabeth Pantley's series of No Cry books.

Also, you could have your husband write him a short note for every night that he will be gone, and read them right at bedtime. Then let him sleep with the note under his pillow, and tell him that if he feels afraid in the middle of the night to feel for his note and know that Daddy is thinking of him

Scottish Twins said...

I wish I could help, but I'm dealing with similar issues with my 8 month old.

I think having them share a room is a great idea. I bet he'll feel much better having his brothers there with him!

mom24 said...

Sharing the room with his brothers is one of the best things you can do for him IMO. Also, I think it's good that you sat in a chair and not in the bed - little steps away help.
When Jason was 3, I went on a trip and dh let him stay on the floor next o our bed for ONE night. It took us 3 months to get him gradually back into his room & bed! We actually had his mattress in the hallway for a month!
Do what you can do to ease his fear and pray for him and with him knowing that he will gain security eventually....