Q&A: Helping our son outgrow separation anxiety

Q: Is my five-year-old son overly attached to his mother? Some days it’s almost impossible to separate him from her. He insists that she sit in the back seat of the car with him. Only Mum can clean him up when he makes a mess, and only Mum is allowed to read him a bedtime story. I’m beginning to wonder if he’ll ever outgrow this phase.

A: It’s important to understand that your son isn’t rejecting you. For now, he simply feels more secure with his mum. It’s likely he’ll outgrow this phase in time if you respond with love, patience and persistence. There are, however, some things you can do that may help the process along.

First, make sure you and your wife are on the same page. Express your concerns openly, and if she agrees that there may be a potential problem, enlist her help in finding more opportunities for you to bond with your son.

You’ll want to begin taking an active role in helping your son with his personal needs. Don’t give him the option of having Mum do it. Just make it clear — kindly and gently — that Dad is going to do the bathing or reading tonight. If his reaction is severe, have your wife sit nearby so her presence reassures him. Transitional measures like this are fine as long as he understands that you are in the picture and involved.

 You’ll also want to schedule plenty of “dad time” together. Initiate and engage in new and fun activities that match his interests and personality. This will help him feel known and secure.

If the problem persists or if your wife is resistant to you taking a more involved role with your son, please give our Family Support Services a call at 03-7954 7920 or write to support@family.org.my.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

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