You are here:

Parenting K-6 Kids/5 year old daughter still struggling with separation anxiety


Thank you so much for taking the time to read my question and help me. I am feeling so desperate and discouraged and I don't know what to do. My daughter started showing signs of separation anxiety around 18 months old. She never wanted to be away from me, even if it was to do something that she loved. Over the past few years, this has fluctuated between a week of a few tears when going to Parent's Day Out and Preschool, to a week of pouring tears and a look of panic on her face when we left her. We have spent a lot of time asking her the "why" questions to try and figure out if she has a fear of something, or if someone has been unkind or hurt her, but she always just says, "no, I just want to be with you". It has become almost debilitating for her because once she knows she is going to have to be away from me, even or just an hour, she starts to panic... crying (not a fit), but a more scared, worried and nervous emotion. She has never thrown a fit... she is a VERY well behaved little girl. That is why this has been so hard. I can tell by the look on her face that she is genuinely scared or worried to be away from me. She is constantly asking, "Are you going anywhere today?", "how many hours will you be gone?" and then she always asks, "PLEASE Momma, don't leave me... PLEASE let me go with you." I desperately want to be the best mom I can be to her, and I'm not sure what to do. I have read so many different opinions on how to handle this from "it will pass, just let her be near you because she will grow out of it", to the opinion of "pull the bandaid" approach of just being firm and leaving her not acknowledging her emotions and fears... Please help me. I don't know what to do. Thank you for your time and help. I really appreciate it.

Hi Erin,
It is a difficult thing for a parent to see their child struggle isn't it?  It is difficult for the parent to teach independence and empowerment as well.  You have been the center of your daughter's universe for 5 years and now she is being forced to learn and use her independence.  It sounds like you have been conscience to determine if there are other issues that have created this problem.  Sometimes its as simple as watching how other kids get their parents' attention.  Have you tried telling her in kid terms that you will be back when "Dora" is over or when Mickey begins?  If she likes princesses or fairies, maybe something like Tinkerbell had to leave Peter Pan so she could learn how to be brave and learn how to be a good fairy to all.  Give her a magic wand to take with her or a necklace with a special stone in it that is the Magic Stone to keep her safe and help her be brave.  When she gets worried, just rub the stone and all will work out.  Then ask her how the stone worked.  Lastly, if you are Christian, teaching her to pray and ask for help to overcome her fear would be a good thing and something that might really work for both you and her.  You could pray for her and for you to know how to help.
 As a Christian mother, that is exactly what I did when I felt overwhelmed at my parental responsibility.  I too, wanted to be the best mom in the world, but fell so short of that so often.  I learned that children use whatever tactic they can to control the situation and get what they think they want, when they want it.  That is contrary to the gospel plan.  There is opposition in all things to help us learn and grow in maturity and spirituality.  One totally frustrating day, I finally said a desperate prayer and asked for help.  It came in the form of The Happy Face Token System.  I developed it over time, but it was so amazingly simple for me, yet it allowed me to teach anything I wanted to my children and they would happily respond and overcome difficult issues and habits quickly because they wanted these little happy face tokens.  I found the more difficult the child, the better the system worked!  Your daughter might respond very well to this system because the of the way she can spend her tokens.  This reward list is not like any reward system you have see.  It is heaven-sent and highly adaptable for the needs of all family members.  She could use tokens to have you spend some time with her.  You could say, "When you go to daycare, if you will be brave and go happily without crying, you can earn 2 tokens for each cartoon time I am gone #1/2 hr#.  You'd be amazed at what she will do and she will feel empowered and try something else.  
I guarantee the system will work as I describe it you get your money back.  What have you got to lose but frustration?  I am offering special prices on my websites.
 Good luck,
Debbie Preece

Parenting K-6 Kids

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Debbie Preece


As a frustrated mom with high-strung and strong-willed children, I began feeling the extraordinary pressure of raising children. I had lost the joy in Motherhood. I realized I didn't have the coping skills or the tools necessary to be a happy mommy, but rather felt I was in the Combat Zone with missiles of sarcasm and anti-mom protests falling all around me! I was ready to call it quits when out of frustrated desperation, I knelt in prayer to ask for help one last time. What resulted was a life-changing experience that brought happy faces to all in the family. I began feeling success in raising my children and joy in Motherhood. Within two weeks, they began calling me: The best Mom in the whole world! After all the children were raised, I wrote From Combat Zone to Love at Home: The Happy Face Token System. This is a Kid-Tested, Mom-Approved discipline, self-motivation, and character development family program that has helped frustrated parents worldwide for 25 years. I call it the ultimate parenting survival manual for frustrated parents and it comes with a parenting survival kit CD with print ready charts as well as a parenting class that discusses the book and program.


As I made beds and fixed meals for the most wonderful family in the whole world, I honestly expected the "golden rule" to work. I fully expected the children to say, thanks for making my bed, what can I do for you?! Instead, it seemed to create a combat zone of thoughtless, selfish and demanding children. Who were these insurgents infiltrating my happy mother domicile? What was I doing wrong? I wanted to find my foxhole and hide. After heavenly intervention, The Happy Face Token System resulted in 1983. It was a new battle plan that virtually guaranteed my survival and that of my family. This simple, but counterintuitive family plan seemed to work as I needed it to, according to my moods, while providing a built-in consistency factor. Within two weeks,a truce had been accepted as the children gave willing, first-time compliance with this most remarkable interactive parenting tool. Happy children responded with; "What can I do for you Mommy? May I set the table? You’re the BEST MOMMY IN THE WHOLE WORLD!"

Cub Scouts, church groups, community service, has served as a Brownie and Girl Scout leader.

Publications review: "When I read in the book that Debbie's children would say things like, "You're the best Mommy in the whole world!" I, quite frankly, did not believe that would EVER happen for me. Well, I was definitely wrong. It has happened many times already and I look forward to many more!I'm more relaxed in my roles and duty as Mama and have begun to truly love being a Mom! I'm a homeschooling Mama, too... and I no longer desire time alone as I used to. I would prefer to be among my children than anywhere else I can think of! This is probably not completely a result of the book, but the book and the principles I have applied from it with my children are certainly helping me make quantum leaps in my own development and in teaching/character training of my children! Tori F 5.0 out of 5 stars Risk Free Way to Peace, September 19, 2011 By WomanNShoe - See all my reviews This review is from: From Combat Zone to Love At Home: The Happy Face Token System (Paperback) We really loved using the token system and it couldn't have come at a better time. I'm the mom of 7 with 6 children still living at home. This system has been a huge blessing in curbing arguments and slothfulness. The earning of tokens help children work towards a goal and feel a sense of accomplishment by achievement. We used poker chips with each color representing a different value. There is a list posted on our family bulletin board with some of the redemption rewards and their token values. Now for Easter egg hunts, the children ask if we can hunt for tokens instead of candy. It's also very helpful in our homeschooling memorization. Tokens are earned for certain goals reached. With a risk-free guarantee, I don't know why anybody wouldn't try it. Consistency is the key. Thanks so much for helping keep peace in our home!! :)

REVIEW: If we are to take the Lord God as our model in raising children, then the implication is that we should also provide appropriate rewards. I have never wanted to "bribe" our children into compliance, so I found the following excerpt from Debbie Preece's book very interesting: She notes that: ". . . according to Webster's Dictionary a bribe is: 'Anything especially money-given or promised to induce a person to do something illegal or wrong.' . . . Webster's defines a blessing as, 'The gift of divine favor. Anything that gives happiness or prevents misfortune.' This book is packed with fun ideas like "The Slothful Servant Quarantine," as well as practical charts and ideas. Altogether a very valuable resource to aid you in child training and setting up and enforcing chores. Lorrie Flem, Editor of TEACH Magazine. author's note: The SLOTHFUL SERVANT ROOM QUARANTINE is designed for ages 8-18. This provides a simple and effective way to get children to clean their rooms to your specifics. They can't use the room until the QUARANTINE is taken down by you. Psychologists refer to this type of reward system as "A Token Economy" or tokenomics as I like to say. It provides a positive, happy experience for compliance and a negative experience, that of losing tokens, when ignored. I like to call it raising children with the "Economy of Heaven!"

Awards and Honors
HAPPY PARENT AWARD EDUCATIONAL CLEARING HOUSE "With From Combat Zone To Love At Home, the weight is off of your shoulders, because the program sets the rules of the game in place." OUTSTANDING PRODUCT FOR OUTSTANDING RESULTS."For very little out of the pocket expense, you can gain some order and peace in your home. All of the charts, tokens etc. are all included in the book... Full instructions are included on the tape, she walks you thru it, in its entirety." Lorrie Flem, Editor of TEACH Magazine:Chore and Behavior Systems-SUPERIOR PRODUCT RATING "I have long been engrossed in trying to find the perfect chore and behavior system for my family to use. This illusive system must be easy to implement, inexpensive, appealing to mother and children, and of course, effective. FROM COMBAT ZONE TO LOVE AT HOME is one of my favorites."

Past/Present Clients
I am LOVING From Combat Zone to Love at Home! We have begun to implement it & are awe-struck by the results we're already receiving. My almost-9-year-old son is motivated toward goals (of wii time, in particular) like never before, and we love the idea of blessing our kids rather than always "being on them." Where Accountable Kids failed us, though, this fills in the gap. Where Celebrate Calm gave us the guilt about our yelling voices, you gave us the solution to move from that to blessings. Sheesh, I cannot say enough about the system's effect on our family. Lisa REVIEW:We really loved using the token system and it couldn't have come at a better time. I'm the mom of 7 with 6 children still living at home. This system has been a huge blessing in curbing arguments and slothfulness. With a risk-free guarantee, I don't know why anybody wouldn't try it. Try using plastic gold or multi-colored coins for tokens. They are fun and sold at her store. REVIEW: I've just begun listening to your seminar and also reading your book about your Wonderful system. My spirit quickened when you talked about the analogy of the Garden of Eden. I'm excited to think that perhaps I've found system that might actually work! I too have tried everything I can think of to achieve the results you talk about. JM,OK REVIEW:At first I wasn't sure I needed this book, but it turns out this book teaches me to mimic the Economy of Heaven in dealing with my children and, by so doing, enjoy consistently good behavior in my children whose behavior will spring from happy hearts! This book IS and has been a heaven-sent gift to me. It has blessed me in my Motherhood... and my life!!! I'm so very thankful!!! VF-FL

©2017 All rights reserved.