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Fear & Anxiety in School-Aged Children
Questions (by age)
||School-aged Fear & Anxiety - More Advice|
Our son still wants company while falling asleep and if he wakes up in the night...I know the usual advice is to gradually move away so the kid gets used to the by-yourself way. However he is so scared of ghosts with long white fingers (shiver!) in the crawl-space in his room and other stuff we are reluctant to just have him tough it out. Any ideas? Thank you! Kristine
About wanting company, when my son was almost 3 and my husband and I were wiped out from going to him at night when he woke up and wanted company, I finally found the solution that's still working great 4 years later. He gets to have company, and we have privacy until we go to sleep. We got a folding foam mattress that we put away during the day and put down in our bedroom with his sleeping bag on it when we go to bed. He goes to bed in his room with company (one of us or sometimes a babysitter), and when he wakes up in the night and wants company, he can get in the bed in our room. He doesn't wake us up, just comes in, gets in his sleeping bag, and knows we are all there together. If he wakes up before we go to bed, we take him back to his bed, and he goes back to sleep knowing he can come join us later. It's great to wake up in the same room in the morning. Julie
Tonight at dinner my almost 5 and 1/2 year old said, ''I feel scared all the time.'' I asked her about what, and she said she didn't know. I told her she didn't look or act scared and she said, ''But my body feels scared.'' She said this very matter of factly. I know I don't have to take immediate action, but it concerned me a lot. I grew up as a very anxious child (which I always attributed to my father moving out when I was 7 and my preoccupied mother) - and I am worried that maybe she too will have anxiety. I'm wondering if anyone else has had any experience with this. In general she otherwise seems perfectly normal and well adjusted - is friendly with people she meets, has friends, etc. thanks. worried mom
I recently found out that my almost 5-year old boy withdraw himself from a large group of kids. I am not sure if it is normal or if there is anything I can help him.
My 5-year-old always needs time to warm up in a new environment. He cried for almost 2 weeks when he started kindergarten in August. His answer to me is always missing daddy and mommy. On Saturday afternoon, we (myself, 5-year old and 2-year boys) were playing in a school playground. He has been fine with other kids (a few) around him. By the time we were ready to leave, a group of kids (about 30 kids, maybe 4-7 yrs old) rushed into the playground and they launched to the climbing structure immediately. Originally I was worried about my 2-yr but he was ok. My 5-yr then asked me to leave and go to another small playground. He said they were wild. On the way home, we talked about his adjustment to kindergarten and this time he told me he has been afriad of his new friends.
My 5-yr is not really shy. When he feels comfortable or gets used to the new environment, he talks a lot and is very active.
I think I am not sure how to look at this? Should I be more supportive to his readiness? Or is there anything I can help him to deal with his anxiety/fear of a large group of kids? I think I am also concerned if he needs our help to build up his confidence. Yet I am not sure if it is ok to expose him to this situation (I thought he might get used to). Anon
I don’t think anything is wrong with your son. Children all have different levels of sensitivity. A large group of children running out at recess could be overwhelming to lots of kids.
It sounds like you’re doing the right thing by talking with him and listening to his feelings. Getting an understanding of his comfort level will do worlds of good for both of you.
I think there is a fine line between encouraging our children to push their “comfort envelope” and respecting their natural tendencies. I had a friend who was scared of the water as a kid. Her dad’s solution was to take her out in a boat in the middle of the lake and throw her in. Needless to say, that didn’t help her want to swim.
Just continue to watch him play. The adjustment to Kindergarten is a big one and it sounds like he’ll be fine with his small group of friends and the larger group as a whole once he’s been there for a while.
I am a separated mom, worried about my anxious 6 year old son. His dad and I have been separated more than a year, and it was amicable - but 3 mos ago my ex moved back in with us, for economic reasons. There has been much more tension, altho there are nice times too, and we are aligned around parenting 75% of the time.
But my son's behavior has changed a lot. He's a very high spirited, fun, confident kid in many ways - but he has always been anxious too. At 5 1/2 (when we first moved out), he became very anxious and fearful of being far from me in the new house. When his dad moved in and things between us became more tense, my son's worries became much worse. He's 6 1/2 now, and frets incessantly about robbers and bad guys sneaking into our house at night, witches and monsters. He has had nightmares and night fears, and I now let him sleep on a mattress in ''our'' (my) room - which has helped. But he has become much more emotional, tearful, angry and defiant. He tells us he wishes he weren't part of this family, wishes we weren't his parents, hates us, we're mean, etc. This is usually in response to simple things like not getting his way about something (genuinely) minor. We both try very hard to be patient and kind with him, and to model affection when we can. But his dad is dark and worried about work, often, I'm stressed, and my son seems dramatically less happy these days.
I see from the BPN archives that many 6 year olds have fears. But of course I assume most of the problem is our family situ. Has anyone weathered something like this? What helped? I am open to any suggestions. I am open to suggestions for therapists as well. I have interviewed several and have not found one I trust. I know we need help, but I'd also like to hear any opinions from the community. Thanks ...
It must be so hard to see him struggle. You absolutely need and deserve support with what's going on. Do you know about the Parent Support Hotline at Family Paths? It's a 24-hour parent support line where people are available to listen to how things are going, possibly providing referrals, as appropriate. 800-829-3777, familypaths.org
What he experienced in the period of separation where you lived separately from his father was a very scary sense of loss. It makes sense that he's playing these feelings out now from day to day, though it must be terribly difficult to see him so anxious considering how much you love him!
I don't have a therapist to refer you to, but think it's a great idea to bring someone in that can give him a space to process these feelings and support his attachments to you and his dad. When you do find someone, I'd recommend looking for someone with experience in ''attachment-focused,'' ''attachment-centered,'' or ''dyadic therapy.''
If you have time, there's a book worth reading called Attachment-Focused Parenting by Daniel Hughes. You may also want to look into Parenting by Connection articles, support groups, and classes from a nonprofit called Hand in Hand Parenting. Hughes' book is a dense read, but very helpful in learning to support your child's attachment to you and his dad.
It's worth mentioning that, with support, it's completely possible for him to process through these feelings and recover fully - over time he can feel more confident and secure in your love and the knowledge that he has your love and his dad's for life. That, in fact, is the purpose of attachment-focused/dyadic therapy. Good luck, and take care. Lindsay
My 6-yr-old daughter is scared sometimes of my eyes. I'm really alarmed at this and hope BPN can help. We adopted her from Guatemala at 6 months. She had a loving foster family. She bonded quickly with us, but was sad and scared at first, common for kids in her situation. We couldnt leave her alone to sleep or she'd wake up terrified. She never took a nap alone, and was never alone at night until age 3; we co-slept until she was 5. She still falls asleep in my arms, and crawls into our bed to snuggle with me every night. I've ended up being a stay-at-home Mom because of this; not my plan, but I'm happy to help her feel more secure. We are kind, gentle, snuggly parents, playing with her and reading a lot, rarely punishing her (partly because she's a really good kid), not raising our voices much less hitting when we are mad, etc. About the worst she gets is, ''I don't like it when you ___,'' and, ''Please go get a rag and help me wipe this up.''
At age 4 she began having issues that the adoption literature says are common, such as misery on her birthday and fear of abandonment (e.g., thinking my husband and I might break up). We've been able to deal with these issues so far. One of the fears she had at 4 was that I'd been replaced by somebody who looked just like me (like the Pod People). She rarely mentions her birth-father and never worried about her forever-dad being replaced by some evil twin; all this is mom-oriented.
She says the scary-eyes fear doesn't have to do with the mom-replacement fear. When it happens I ask her to mash my face around, pull my cheeks, etc. while looking at the scary eyes, hoping to desensitize her via making fun of my face.
The kicker is that I do sometimes have scary eyes. My eyes look just like my Dad's, and as he got wrinkly, he sometimes looked like a reptile. As I get older (now in my 50's) my eyes are doing much the same. Maybe if I got a face lift.C",B&
Any suggestions? Really a mammal Momb
Here's the thing that I wanted to share when I read your post, though. Don't make too much of the pod person fear. It may be common among adopted kids, but I had the same fear about my biological, loving mom when I was just about that age. I thought she and my grandma who lived with us and who was never anything but ridiculously indulgent, might secretly be witches who were just acting nice to trick me. I saw The Wizard of Oz too early, and I was a very imaginative kid. It wasn't quite that I thought this was true as much as the what-if scenario occurred to me and I couldn't quite dismiss it. I thought, well, how would I know? If they were real witches, they'd be very good at disguising it, etc. In time, this fixation passed on its own.
It was a real fear, so I am not saying don't take your daughter's worries seriously. What I am saying is do not necessarily conclude that it is because she was adopted or that it reflects a deficit in your bond with her. I was always and am still close to my mother. Your daughter is probably bright and imaginative and perhaps slightly nervous in temperament. For all kids, four is an imaginative, wild age. Kids that age think of all kinds of crazy things, some of them dark, and they aren't yet very good and sorting real from pretend, life from dreams, etc. The fact that she tells you these worries seems like a good sign. I think she's bringing you into her fears because she trusts you to reassure her and ultimately lead her out of them. Anon
Obviously you have a very close and loving relationship with your daughter. Hopefully this can be an opportunity for you to get even closer by helping her learn to overcome her fears. If you would like support, I can recommend a wonderful therapist who is amazing at helping children work with their imaginations. Kaibrina
This may make me sound like the worst parent ever, but I put it off for a year because I just couldn't fathom driving to Marin for regular appointments. Let me say I wish I hadn't. His name is Stephen Zilber and I was really amazed at the results. With our daughter is was a stomach ache issue. Every time we got in car she got car sick, sometimes actually vomiting, sometimes just crying. I mean if we drove a block. Finally I broke down and made an appointment because I couldn't figure out how to live our life with out getting in a car. The entire way to Marin she was saying she was going to throw up. I kid you not I have not heard one word about being sick to her stomach since the first appointment. She also sleeps through the night now and bedtime now takes 15 minutes versus a hour.
He has given us some homeopathic remedies and a nightly back massage routine. We see him once a month or every couple of months.
I have a wonderful daughter who is very caring. I worry that she is too fearful at times, especially when it comes to doing new physical activities. She is on the shorter side, so that can be part of it. We see this most at playgrounds. She tends to be cautious and give up on climbing and makes excuses for not doing the activities. There was a time when she was more willing to go up to the taller slide and go down, but for the last 2 or so years, she hesitates. I don't think that she has had any bad experience or major falls.
I try coaching her, model it and ask her to watch the other kids (I will point out that a shorter child was able to do it). Other times I just let her be and hope that she will build her confidence on her own. My worry is that she will get more hesitant and fearful and this will negatively impact her social development. I also don't know how much I should push her to do more.
We have her in gymnastics and she has a fantastic teacher. He challenges her to try and she usually is very receptive to his direction/encouragement. She has come a long way in this class (again much more cautious then other children). I can tell that she feels great when she does something that she sees as a challenge and has a sad look when she gives up.
I love her cautious side but I do think it is a bit too much. When I talk to other parents I usually get the ''you should appreciate this!'' (which I do).
Any suggestions?? worried mom of a worried child
My daughter is not fearful, but can be quite cautious, so I really try to be encouraging without pushing. I let her know that I think she CAN do something, but if she is insistent she doesn't want to try it, or doesn't want to try without our help, I let it go. I make sure to be encouraging in a cheerful, upbeat way, and not express disappointment if she doesn't want to try something new, or really wants assistance from one of us (my husband and I).
Also, I recently read about some child-development research that was done that found that over-praising kids can result in them feeling reluctant to try new things and take risks. (I imagine that this would be more likely to occur with kids who already have a cautious temperament.) My understanding of the theory was that the kids see the praise as a sign of their parents approval and that to continue to receive that approval, they believe they must always succeed (after all, when else do we praise them, except when they've done something we like, or they have successfully accomplished something?).
My point is to maybe pay attention to when, and how much you praise her and consider if it's possible that praising choices may be a contributing factor. The recommendation was to be more neutral in our comments, rather than making a big deal praising our children when they do something: acknowledge it by saying something like ''wow, that's the highest I've ever seen you swing on the swings'' rather than ''you're getting so good on the swings!'' The idea being that the second kind of phrase can subtly apply pressure to the child, having them feel that it's important to be ''good'' at all of the things they do, and therefore reluctant to try new things, in case they're NOT good at them (because then they won't get our praise/approval).
It was certainly food for thought for me, and I've tried to incorporate that principle in how I work with my daughter. Perhaps you will find it helpful to consider, too? Mom of a (somewhat) Cautious Kid
Then she went to camp at age 8 and she volunteered to be the first one to try the climbing wall! Why that happened then, who knows? But she was thrilled with herself. She's never looked back. Since then she's become an avid outdoor adventurer. She has done lots of rock wall climbing, backpacking, cycling, rafting, even glaciering and ice climbing, and is now a varsity athlete.
So... there is hope for your daughter. My one bit of parent-to- parent advice would be to not project your worries and concerns so she won't pick up on them and this becomes an ''issue'' for her. That includes ''pushing'' her to do more. I think this can backfire by creating performance anxiety on top of her normal fears. Showing confidence and pleasure in what she's doing will do more to boost her self-confidence than subtle criticism or worrying that she's not doing more. Continue to show delight in her, whatever she does or doesn't do, while offering her plenty of opportunities to expand her comfort zone. For my kid, I did almost nothing and believed in my kid and it worked out. Maybe we were just lucky, but this is my two cents. Hope this helps reassure you. Fear-no-more mom
My six year old daughter is afraid to be left alone in any room in our house. She always wants to play within my sight. I haven't been overly concerned about this, but recently she said she hates being afraid. And what she is afraid of is kidnappers or robbers in the house. I've tried explaining that we are safe. And that I can protect her. She wants to lock all the doors and windows. I've started to give her a little advice about being safe or protecting herself. But this seems to raise anxiety. I've tried saying that kidnapping almost never happens. I am not paranoid about these issues myself. And her exposure to media, esp. television is very limited. I have no idea where she learned the word kipnapper. What she wants me to say is that there are no such things as kidnappers. I've been temped to indulge her, because I hate to see her suffering with this fear/anxiety. But I don't want to lie to her. Telling her simply, ''please don't worry about this,'' doesn't work. She's actually not afraid of strangers on the street, and is outgoing and social generally. All her fears surface at night, close to bedtime, when she (and myself for that matter,) is easily distraught. Other fears of hers include fear of aging and death. (She wishes she was still five.) She also has a medical condition that could be life threatening, and I'm not really sure how much fear stems from that. Any ideas about what to say, or how to approach these issues are much appreciated Anxious about her anxiety
Recently I have started meditating with her using a CD someone gave me called ''A Still, Quiet Place,'' produced by Amy Salzberg, M.D. It's a terrific CD that has sweet meditation exercises for kids, that range from 1 minute to 8 minutes in length. They are gentle, wise, and interesting for my daughter to do.
I think the key to helping our girls is to help them find the centered places within themselves by teaching them techniques they can refer to and actually do when they start feeling that anxiety creeping in. Our health insurance won't pay for first-rate therapy, or I would definitely do that too because it is proven to help anxious kids.
We tried the therapy clinic at UC Berkeley and that worked for a while, but it was hard for my daughter to switch therapists every year. I am looking for a meditation program specifically for children; it has been shown to work for anxious adults, and i bet that it will help children too. Best wishes Elizabeth
Do a ''house protecting'' ritual by burning some sage with your daughter to ''push out all the bad energy so that bad things/people won't want to come here''. Walk around with a smoking smudge stick ('sweet grass' mixtures smell nicer and are what Native Americans used). Hold the smoking smudge thing over something to hold falling ash, and the idea is you're pushing the smoke into all parts of the house to ''chase out'' anything that doesn't belong there. Tell her the purpose of the smoke is to make people in the house safe. You can do this as often as you/she like, but maybe once a week or month (or when her fears are strongest).
Tell her to call in some invisible guardians to keep her safe (she can say it in her head - doesn't need to be out loud). Tell her to call in new guardians anytime she thinks her guardians ''need a rest''. They can be big and strong to protect her - whatever image in her head makes her feel the best.
This sounds wacky, but it could redirect her focus, so that she's not thinking about the fear, but thinking about steps to make her feel safe. fear be gone
My very socially-aware 6 year old has trouble falling asleep at night (I have read the advice in the archives about sleep). Because he cant sleep, I think, he starts worrying: about poor and homeless people, about war, about burglars, about storms etc. I try to focus on the positive when he brings up these issues, by talking about all the folks who are trying to improve on these situations (e.g, house the homeless, etc). I have offered for us to do volunteer work as a family, so he will feel that he is doing something to help. For the record, we DO shield him from t.v news, we DO NOT read the paper out loud. Anybody else with this kind of sensitive and empathic child find effective words or rituals to reassure them, especially at night so they can fall asleep more easily? Any relevant, calming prayers people say with their kids at night? Thanks! Mom of sensitive guy
A few other things we've tried: you might want to try giving him a set of Worry Dolls. A quick web search yielded many places to purchase them for as little as $2. They're small figures usually in a box or bag. The Guatemalan legend is that your son gives each doll a particular issue to worry about and then places the dolls under his pillow. It's then the dolls' job to worry, not his. For starters, see http://www.globalmarketstore.com/moreworrydolls.html
Or... how about a Native American Dream Catcher? While the legend doesn't specifically address worries, it does catch the good thoughts and lets the bad ones go through. I've been told to shake it out outdoors each morning, which I think adds a nice touch. Perhaps you could adapt the concept to appeal to his imagination. Again, a little surfing lead to this interesting site: http://www.cia-g.com/~gathplac/dreamcatcher_legend.htm.
For a while, one of my sons wore a bag of ''charms'' to bed. It included a crystal rock, a St. Christopher's medal, a piece of gold, a snake pendant, etc. All things he had collected that he thought would bring him good luck and protection. He was convinced his bag had powers to ward of bad spirits that would bring many of the things he worried about in his direction.
Finally, maybe he could start a bed-time ''Worry Journal.'' Each night before he goes to sleep, you help him log what he's worried about. Just getting them out of his head might help. Then, in the light of day, you could see if he's interested in discussing them further. Over time, it might help him to see how his worries change -- or, hopefully, decrease as he realizes that he's already worried about that one! Joyce
My six-year-old is afraid of television, videos, and some storytellers and performances. When I tell people about this, mostly they respond as though it's good, but it is starting to effect her life, and she's self-conscious about being a ''scardy- cat.'' She's not afraid of most things but she still feels self- conscious. I've tried watching innocuous PBS shows with her, but it doesn't seem to help. She is somewhat less afraid of ''scary stories'' than she was a couple of years ago, but even now at performances she tends to panic. Otherwise she's doing fine, very imaginative and on-target at school. We've never watched much TV, ourselves, mainly because of boredom and other demands on our time, so other than kid shows the TV isn't on. mom of a scardy-cat
My 6 1/2 year-old daughter has always been the fearful/anxious type. Some of her fears are: loud noises, especially popping noises (balloons, fireworks, yes, the auto-flush too) animals, especially dogs and birds. She is also afraid of certain TV/movie charachters, specifically Nemo and Woody from Toy Story (''because they have black eyes''), and, oh yeah, any Nutckrackers.
She's also afraid of the darkness, and there are times when she doesn't want to go anywhere in the house alone. I've always believed that these problems are due to her being highly sensitive. She is also a very bright kid, not sure if she'd qualify as gifted, but definitely very smart. She's otherwise happy and sociable.
We've tried anything from rationalizing her fears, using earplugs when we go to Bday parties, covering her eyes or ears, etc, and sometimes she copes with her fears really well, and she's able to keep it together, but sometimes she just loses it and just starts screaming.
I have a really hard time dealing with this every time it happens, and now i'ts been harder, since my 2 year-old is starting to ''copy'' her sister, and being afraid of things she didn't use to be scared of, so at times I'm dealing with two kids screaming because there's a dog, a bird or a balloon. Needless to say, every time we go out, I'm worried that there will be animals or balloons, or anything that will scare her, and I can see this situation taking over our lives sometimes. Would it be recommendable to take her to therapy? Any other options, strategies? Someone recently posted advice about EFT (the emofree website), and I checked it out, but I'm kind of skeptical. Would this kind of approach work with a girl this age? Has anyone had successful experiences dealing with this? I'd really appreciate any advice. Thank you very much in advance. need help now
Unfortunately, the next session does not start until Sept, but he also sells his class on book and DVD. From what I can see, several people in the adult class have taken the classes more than once, so I don't see any problem with using the DVD (or book alone) then taking the class later. You can find information about the class dates and times and the materials at: http://angelnet.com/fear.html anon
I have 2 questions for folks out there. First, our 7-year old seems to be going through separation anxiety all over again -- works himself up into tears if mom want to go out to a swim class or dad wants to peel off early from a family outing to go do some work. Is this normal at this age? How do you alleviate it, and what are age-appropriate ways to self-soothe? Also, he keeps saying ''I don't know how'' when we ask him to stop fidgeting at night and go to sleep. We finally realized he has a point! Any advice out there about how to teach a child to fall asleep? We assume these strategies would be similar to dealing with anxieties during the day? These days, he is more responsive to advice from books and videos than from parents ... Thanks! Clueless parents
Here are a few steps you can teach him to help relax him. Long deep breathing. Those long deep breaths will change the physiology of anxiety which tends to cause short, shallow breaths, getting ready for fight of flight. He can consciously slow his breathing down. For a 7-y-o have him try to imagine making a candle flame dance. Take a slow, deep breath, then breath out slowly enough that the flame does not go out, but strongly enough that it dances. Might be good to practice with a real candle during the daylight.
Deep breathing is calming any time. For sleep, teach him to get out of his head by taking a tour of his body. Start with his toes, and feel--don't imagine--each one. He might even blow some breath a kiss them with the long deep breathing. Then slowly work up his body, relaxing each part. When we do this with our son, he's usually asleep pretty quickly.
You might check into Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which is great for kids and adults dealing with anxiety. There are lots of CBT therapists out here, many who specialize in working with kids. There's also a good book, What to do When You Worry Too Much. Remember the deep breathing for yourself, too . anonymous
In any case the best approach is to develop a system of anxiety control with baby steps. Identify each fear and establish a small goal of proved coping. If trying to get the child to remain in bed alone try to have him Kirin bed for 5 minutes alone. Then with success increase it to 10. Each fear can be approached this way.
If this lasting longer than a month or two get a professional evaluation. Untreated anxiety only gets worse. It's also valuable in looking at sources of stress. Kids with subtle learning/ processing problems can experience stress. Robert
Transitions are also hard for kids. We adults usually have the big picture in mind, so when it's time to say, go to work, we're expecting it. But from a kid's point of view, the world has shifted - she was happily drawing pictures, and now your suddenly leaving. Even though you leave for work every day, and kids ''know'' this (in the sense that they can repeat it back to you), they really don't have a sense of time that allows them to expect and predict changes. One thing you can do is to give warnings: ''In ten/five/one minutes we're leaving for school.''
Some transitions are harder than others. If there is a difficult one, talk with your daughter about what about it upsets her. See if you can understand and empathize with her point of view, even if you plan to keep doing what you are already doing. Kids, like the rest of us, want to feel understood.
There are a lot of great books on parenting that address practical issues such as these, as well as emotional development - you might just browse at your local bookstore and find one you like. Some possibilities are: Parenting from the Inside Out (Siegel); How to Talk So Kids Will Listen (Faber); Hold Onto Your Kids (Neufeld). Pat
My 7 year old son has become quite obsessed and paniced about burglars breaking into our home. It only seems to be an issue at his bedtime, and every night he begs me to stay with him until he falls asleep. This is really hard for me, because sometimes it takes him 15-30 minutes to fall asleep, and given that I work 4 days a week, and never have time to do chores or relax until the kids go to bed, it means I can't even start with the night's work until later in the evening. I'm torn about what to do. I really do believe he's freaked out about burglars. But part of me feels like I'm being manipulated to stay with him--it's always been hard for him to go to bed. I'm assuming that the fear is really real, so I've been staying with him, but I find myself getting more and more resentful. I've told him recently that he has to go to bed earlier if he wants me to stay with him until he falls asleep, otherwise it gets too late. I stress that this is not a punishment, for I know he's scared, but that it's a practical matter for me. I'm not really sure this is the best approach and would be interested in hearing how other families have dealt with this issue. Thanks much. anon
Our son was having such a hard time just getting through daytime activities (he had to be within touching distance of me) that I called the child psychology dept. at Kaiser and got advice. The dr. I spoke to said that this sudden anxiety was normal, but to be careful not to feed it.
Briefly, what he outlined what to do is not unlike any other sleep-training weaning program a parent might do with a toddler. Shorten the time you're with him in small amounts, use a chart with a simple reward (i.e. special activity) as incentive if needed, and above all, keep your voice and attitude calm and neutral - don't engage in his fears, don't debate his ''what-ifs'' - just answer with ''you are safe; I do everything in my power to mke sure you are safe. That's all there is to say''
Our son's burgular fears subsided pretty quickly, though I know he's sort of dwelling on other things. I've also been told by a teacher that this is the age that kids start ''figuring out'' the differences between reality and fantasy, and it can get a bit overwhelming at times. Another Mom
My 8 year old son has recently described to me how he thinks frequently about bad things happening--bombs, getting shot, burglar in the house--frightening things. He does not watch tv or videos or gameboys--maybe he's not desensitived! These thoughts do not seem to interfere with his life, he goes to school, and on playdates; however, he does not like to be alone at all. We live in a very small house, and he does not like to go down the hall to his room or to the bathroom on his own, recruiting me, his brother, the dog to accompany him. Both his father and I have worked on managing our anxiety over the years, so our son probably has quite a genetic tendency towards this. I wonder if we should just manage it at home, as long as it doesn't seem to interfere much with his life, or if we should seek some sort of professional help to prevent further problems. anon
My husband and I are struggling with our 8 year old. He seems to have fears or anxieties about certain things. He is opposed to a carpool in the mornings because he wants me (mom) to be there to kiss him and wave goodbye on the school yard everyday. I tell him I drive all the time and this will give me a break 2 days a week.
He cannot put himself to sleep without the touch or being next to one of us every night. He often sleeps in our bed. He is afraid of the dark, which I get because I was too. But my husband and I only have evenings together and this is affecting our relationship too. We have a 9 year old daughter that is the complete opposite of him and I think he feels pressure from that too. Some days we have the patience to discuss and come to mutual decisions and others there is no choice available. He prefers to stay home and play. He is very social when he wants to be and has friends, but there is this other very sensitive side to him.
I want us to feel we are doing the right thing by him, but I am doubting myself more and more. Should I get him in therapy? anon
I think the beauty of this class is that the kids see and meet kids who have the same and different fears as them and makes it all very normal. The class was great for him and our whole family because once he knew that he could control the fear he got on with being a kid.
You don't have to be a Kaiser member to attend the class. If you call Kaiser/ Vallejo and ask for Dr. Liebgold's office they'll give you all of the info. anonymous
My 8 year old son is having various illogical fears, particularly with trees falling down on him or on the house. There are certain streets he won't even walk on because he thinks the trees might break and fall on him. School has been stressful for him, thanks to the current horrible system in public schools (teachers rushing to set goals, kids being difficult, too much homework). Situation at home is fine, no fighting, tv, healthy lifestyle etc. He's very bright but his math (tables) is not great. In the long run, private schooling would be best but that's not an option at this point in time. Another sympton he has is being uncooperative and grouchy in the mornings. Any advice would be helpful. anon
It's a 6 week class (monday nights) and they help kids with all kinds of phobias, step by step. My younger son and I took the class in the fall. I highly recommend it.
Phobia fears are not usually logical (trees falling?) but never- the-less they are very realistic to the person experiencing the fear.
The current class started January 26th. They will likely invite you to attend the last class of this series to check it out. I think the next one starts in April or May. Call Vallejo Kaiser Health Ed Dept. and they will send you an application. good luck. June
Some of the books were written 20 - 30 years ago and the lanugage (particularly references to mothers as stay-at-home caregivers) are rather dated, but the discussions of the child behaviors are right on. To me it is very comforting to know that what seemed to me to be strange or worrisome or abnormal is completely normal.
Of course, your son may need something else - but check out ''Your 8 year old'' by Louise Ames and Carol Haber first! Good luck! Other mom of 8 yr old
My 8-1/2 year old daughter seems to be afraid of everything. Lately she won't go to the bathroom by herself. She only will go if someone goes with her. She will not play in her room by herself. My husband and I suggested we go to DisneyWorld in December and she said ''No Disneyland is too scary''. She is afraid to fly also. She told me that at school around Halloween some of the kids were telling scary stories and this why she is so scared lately. But she seems to be afraid of so many things. Even before Halloween she was afraid of going down hills in the car in San Francisco, afraid of spiders, afraid of movies at the movie theater because they are too loud, afraid of the dark, etc. It frustrates me and I don't think I'm handling her very well. She obsesses about things that scare her. I remember as a child being scared of lots of things as well. I also suffered from anxiety in my 20's. She reminds me alot of myself as a child although are fears are of different things. What can I do to help her get over these fears and/or manage them better? Scaredy Cat's Mom
My soon-to-be 10-year-old son does not want to be reminded of his birthday later this week. He is a precocious only child. He does not tolerate change well. Of course we understand the fear behind anything unknown - taking a trip to a new place, flying for the first time, entering a new classroom, etc. And we all have doubts and worries about the future, maybe even fear The Great Unknown, as it were. But we are flabbergasted that a young boy is not looking forward to his birthday. As children, my husband and I looked forward to these days as the days when all the attention was focused on us - to a degree anyway - but we had siblings. Perhaps our son is used to all of the attention we give him and doesn't feel the need we had as young children to have a special day all to ourselves. It's odd to me though that he is already concerned about getting older. I remember having existential moments even as a young girl, but I looked forward to my future. Our son, though, hates to be reminded of his birthday and the thought that he is ''one year closer to dying.'' Yes. He has said that. No present - or even giving in and not acknowledging the day of his birth - will shave off any of his pessimistic, gloomy core. We have reminded him that this is a day we are celebrating as a family. But do we honor his wishes and not even vocalize our wish for his ''Happy Birthday'' when he awakens on Friday morning? Is this unique to children his age? Worried mama
My ten year old daughter has been having a lot of anxiety lately. This is pretty new for her, but her worries have become pretty prevalent. She has night worries about all sorts of things: something happening to her parents, throwing up, getting sick, etc. I'd like to help her of course - What have other parents of anxious kids done to help break the spinning of these anxieties? And, does anyone have a good recommendation for a therapist who specializes in this? I'm thinking that what she probably needs is some good cognitive therapy skills to break herself out of these patterns, but I'm open to other types of therapeutic options. Thanks in advance, Appreciative Mama
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