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What would you do- childhood anxiety edition

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I haven’t posted much, but I’ve consistently read posts from others and have taken comfort in knowing I’m not alone in a lot of these things. However, my 8 year old daughter is throwing me for a loop with this one, so I thought I would see if anyone has any suggestions for this. 

My husband died 7 years ago, just a few days before DD 1st birthday. So, she has no memory of him. But, throughout her entire life she’s had issues with anxiety and with being attached to people (mostly me) and possessions. This behavior has had peaks and valleys, the best being when she was spending lots of time with her grandparents, the lowest being about a year ago when her separation anxiety got so bad she was trying to physically hurt me in the school drop-off line. 

She’s come a long way, and with counseling and a whole lot of patience (and, let’s be honest, wine.... for me, not her.) she’s doing so much better. The issue that remains, however, is her attachment to possessions and hoarding. We manage her wanting to keep everything by limiting the space she has to keep it. But, last weekend I went to purchase a new car and it was as though she regressed an entire year. Hitting, trying, hiding my keys, threatening to run away- we had it all. All because she “loves the car and doesn’t want it to go away”. (And I didn’t just spring this in her. I’ve been preparing her for months for this purchase.) Counseling has been a slow process with this behavior. 


Has anyone ever gone through anything like this. Any good tips for tips for helping kids cope with this kind of attachment?


Thanks for reading, and for any ideas you may have!!



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What does her therapist say about the situation? My middle daughter was 12 when my husband died. She has had some anxiety and issues with possessions. I'll be completely honest, I'm not always patient with her anxiety. I believe a lot of it is mind over matter. I don't coddle her. Instead I try to help her with coping mechanisms. Not just that, but facing her fears. It's a process, and takes time. She's 17 now and still has her days. We went to a concert last night that she had given me every reason why she didn't want to go. She yelled and cried. All fear. She went and had an amazing time. I told her that I was proud of her for facing her fears. I don't want her to miss out on experiences because of what "might" happen.


Her issue with possessions was a little different. It wasn't letting go of things, but more like not wanting to use certain things that reminded her of her dad. I guess you could say I caved or coddled her during that phase. I felt it was different than her anxiety because they're just possessions. Remove them, change them up, and the problem is solved. Her way of grieving. I replaced our dining set and two sofas. For the first year after he died I stood up at our bar while we ate dinner. My three daughters sat on the three bar stools. My middle daughter refused to sit at the table. Same with the sofas. She refused and I didn't want to push her. The new furniture helped her. We all grieve differently. 

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My daughter, who was 12 when my wife passed away 3 years ago, was very resistant to any change in our house for at least a year.  Any suggested change in furniture, painting rooms, etc was upsetting to her.  For her, I feel it made her feel we were moving on from her mother and forgetting her.  It's pretty complex stuff psychologically, especially depending on the age.  I've tried to show patience and understanding with these issues, trying to honour and remember my wife while still finding ways for life to progress the way it needs to.  You know your child better than anyone else, My daughter also had fears for a while after my wife died of "what if you died too, what would happen to me?".  I tried to explain, that the chances of something happening to me are very small, and that I have documents in place that she would be with her grandparents who love her very much if that were to ever happen.  I think that helped her to know there was at least some thought and planning put into that terrifying possibility for her.  I also am more risk-averse, avoiding any dangerous situations or activities, knowing I am her only living parent and being cognizant of that myself.

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My son was only 9 mths old when his Dad died - it’s been 7 years. Our situation sounds different than yours in some ways ,similar in others! He is very attached to me (increasingly so as he’s getting older) and very attached to our house (which his Dad and I bought together). I’ve been itching to make a change at some point but he cries when we talk about moving, even though he’s not 100 percent happy in his school. Although I don’t plan on moving soon for a few reasons I am trying to warm him up to the idea that it could happen in the future by integrating him on the choice (of a new house) and being able to decorate his room as he wants. I’m also trying to de-clutter and my son doesn’t want to part with any of his things even though he doesn’t play with them. Not a huge surprise but for this I have been explaining how we are donating the older toys and books to kids in need - and for him to think about how happy he will make some other kids by donating. This track seems to help - so maybe try this for your daughter (and integrating her in the decision)? And I would keep up with the therapy - I’m not sure it’s doing a lot for my son but it’s an invaluable resource. Positive reinforcement always works well for us - whether it is giving him a treat like a cookie or earning stickers and picking out something fun to buy. Wishing you the best - it’s so heartbreaking watching our kids struggle with loss. 

Edited by Captains wife

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