Some of the biggest reasons children exhibit these behaviors is poor diet, care-giver exhaustion or irritation, not enough one-on-one time with primary care-giver, or exposure to violence. Please see section on FAQs and counselors for info. Care-givers must engage in self-care (taking care of yourself). You may become reactive instead of responding to your child, if you are not taking care of you. See counseling section for self-care suggestions. Greatly increasing your one-on-one time through doing things together and play, which is scheduled daily, can make a big difference in how your child interacts with you. The more time together, the better for both of you. Removing television and media from your child, as well as aggressive people can calm a child down. Having empathy, which means putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, will calm your child as well. If your child is excited, get excited too and match that energy level. See counselor section for books by Monique Prince, Dr. Hughes and Francis MacNutt. Co-sleeping can also help to reduce these behaviors dramatically. See the following section as well.
Getting them to go to Bed/Anxiety/Clinging
In our culture people have been taught that children should be separated from mom as early as infancy, perhaps in a crib in the next room or being dropped off to other care-givers. Children are simply not wired in their brains for this activity. Some children seem to do just fine, but most do not. The natural age to begin separation is adolescence. Yes, they are built to be with mom or a primary care-giver for many years. One of the best things for their emotional, social, and brain development is to have them sleep in bed with you until they are ready to move on out. The few exceptions to this would be a care-giver who is using drugs, is obese (not from pregnancy), or someone who sleeps in a violent manner. Co-sleeping eliminates SIDS. 90% of the world’s children sleep with their parents until adolescence.
If your child is having fear, anxiety, or clinging, hold them closely to your body. Tell them, “I’m right here for you. I will hold you until you feel safe.” or tell them, “I can see you are afraid. I’m sorry that you fell so afraid. I’m here for you.” Avoid trying to reason with them, they cannot hear it when they are this scared. Avoid telling them, “you’re ok.” or “There is nothing to be afraid of.” or “Knock it off wimp!” They are afraid and need your help to feel better. Hold them until they feel safe (this is empathy). While you are holding them, take some deep, audible breaths in and out so that they can feel your heart beat slowing down. (Don’t make yourself dizzy).
This is the most difficult problem with which to deal. If you are caring for a child who has experienced abuse or neglect, the best thing for them is for you to ignore their physical age in how you interact with them. You will need to begin interacting with them as if they were very young, and to lower your expectations dramatically until they start to experience healing. Yes, healing is possible. Try to never leave them alone. You have to establish trust and this can only be done by interacting with them in positive ways. If they are upset in anyway, stay with them. This is my specialty. Read FAQs and Counselors sections for resources and suggestions. Spend as much time as possible with these children, try to never leaving them alone, and do not use any rewards or punishments. Diet changes recommended in Sally Fallon’s book are needed right away, as well as Monique Prince’s, Dr. Hughes’ and Francis MacNutt’s books.