“Come watch me!”
The 5-year-old had an incredible fear of being alone – to the point where he wanted me to watch him poop. He wouldn’t let me be in the next room. I had to be right there – watching (and smelling). And if I didn’t respond immediately, he would throw a fit!
This would get annoying – He was in Kindergarten – 5-year-olds can go to the bathroom by themselves at this age!
But then I remember his history: Brought to us at 8-months-old. Very ill and congested. A diaper rash the size of the diaper. Unable to even roll over. And screaming if I left his sight or if a door was simply closed in the room. (My baby was seriously neglected, constantly being left in a car seat in another room by himself during drug binges.)
I have been reading The Connected Child: Bring hope and healing to your adoptive family.
I’m now on Chapter 4 (“Disarming the Fear Response with Felt Safety”) which details the many ways to help a child feel safe. This chapter had an overwhelming number of tips and techniques on creating an environment of “felt safety” especially in regard to schedules and avoiding tantrums – the best chapter so far.
As far as a child’s fear of being alone, I found these:
6 Tips to Overcome Fear in Children
- Be approachable – Getting down and talking at a child’s level can help build trust so that a child can share what’s really going on with them
- Honor your child’s emotions – As tempting as it is, a parent should never tell a child that “A Kindergartner should go to the bathroom without Mommy having to watch.” A child has a fear that a parent should acknowledge.
- Be responsive to your child’s need for assurance – Always send the message to your child that you understand how he feels and that he is safe.
- Give choices – This helps a child feel empowered with their situation. “Do you want stand or sit when you potty?“
- Help your child through the challenge of overcoming his fear – I went to the bathroom with this child for months. I would challenge him by standing by the doorway to the bathroom where he could see my arm. One day, he just went to the bathroom alone because he knew I was in the next room. Yeah!
- Praise accomplishment – “Wow! Look at you! I stood outside with my arm in the door! You are getting so big!“