Q: My eight-year-old seems to need attention constantly, even though she gets more than her older siblings. I find it exhausting to keep responding to her, but she gets upset and is cling-ier than ever when I have to go to work. Does she have an anxiety problem?
A: It sounds as if your daughter is experi-encing separation anxiety. Usually, with an eight-year-old, your role would be less central in her interactions: Your daughter should be connecting more with peers. Try to help her develop friendships by arranging regular playdates; coach her on social skills if she needs it; and supervise her activities to ensure the impact of her peers is positive. Model being a good friend by showing an interest in her peers. Without rejecting her, you can gently shift your role from her exclusive nurturer and entertainer to one of facilitator and supporter. It will also help her gain acceptance and feel like an important part of her peer group.
There could be several reasons why your daughter has difficulty separating from you. If my suggestions don’t work, consult a children’s mental health professional to learn more about her anxiety and how to ease it.