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Fears & Aversions in Toddlers
|Questions||Advice about Specific Toddler Fears|
Hi, I have a 15 month old daughter who is afraid of ball. I just discovered this recently. I brought a ball from Walmart two weeks back, the size of volleyball/soccer ball and from the moment she saw this ball, she has been freaking out. She gets stiff and starts running away from the ball crying. Any clue why ? -S.U
My 2.5 year old daughter has recently become scared of almost anything. She tells me she's scared about 20 times a day -- sometimes she doesn't seem particularly scared and other times she seems genuinely frightened (running toward me from another room with an anxious expression). One of her main fears is Santa -- or her idea of Santa. Ever since our downstairs neighbors put up xmas lights she's associated them with Santa. She's made the connection between the neighbors and ''Santa who comes at Christmas'' so now she asks me every day whether or not Santa is coming in our house -- often after hearing the downstairs neighbors make noise (which is frequent). To tell the truth, I'm getting a little frustrated with the constant ''scared'' mantra. I have tried ignoring it and also being extremely reassuring, neither seem to lessen the intensity or frequency of the fears. Now I just do something in between -- I say something like, ''there's nothing to be afraid of. oh look, there's a toy!'' Is this normal toddler behavior or have we messed her up psychologically in some way (!). We've had a bunch of transitions about 4-6 months ago (new sibling, move across the country, etc.) but she seemed like she was over any upset around those changes. Please assure me that this will go away! Scared No More
The whole thing got me thinking about how I address his fears. Now what I try to do is reassure him that he is strong and safe, and that he can handle what comes his way. And that we are always here to help. I've also started to refer back to events when he was scared but didn't let his fears overwhelm him. I talk in detail about how that worked, and suggest that he try it again. It really seems to help. --c
IF your child is very verbal, like mine, then you might consider a longer, low strees interview with her. Find some safe, familiar time (you both need to be in a contemplative mood) to discuss all the kinds of scary she knows about and all the things that are like scary but have other better words for them. If only to get her out of the groove of using that word a million times for your sake. But beyond that she might get a handle on the permutations that are just intense but not threatening (most of them) Then when a ''scary'' thing happens you can resume the discussion and pick out a better description together.
I should stop being surprised by it, but my daughter is always ''working'' on things in her mind and asking questions that, when I listen closely, uncover what she is working on. Try listening to any question that comes out of nowhere. Often she has gotten a key thing wrong and then extrapolates quite reasonably from there to scary conclusions. An example from example, ''can we park close?''(sounded a tad concerned and had brought it up earler) ''I'll try, why do you ask?''(my favorite add in) ''I don't want to go far without you'' ''I'm walking you in like I always do'',''But this is a leaving class...'' She assumed that since it was a non-parent participation class she'd be dropped at the curb. Somehow those got connected in her head, and because I'd never even considered that a possibility, it took some extra hard listening to pick it up between the lines.
Another Tack you could consider: a friend had a similar problem and they made up and found songs and poems about the things that were scary that they recalled whenever they encountered the scary thing. Worked great for them - a stay at home dad
Overall the point is similar, there are certain people and or situations that make her uncomfortable or disturbed. She clamps her hands over her face and wimpers. She too frequently talks about how she is ''scared.'' Like you, my feeling is that some of it is a feat and some of it is for attention. What I have found works best is to simply aknowledge her fear in a matter of fact way. ''I see that you are worried.'' Then I reassure her that things will be okay and I continue on as usual. We try to act very casual and do not let her intensity affect us. I have found that if I pick her up or keep trying to sooth her, then it only makes things worse. That is why I think that some of it is for attention.
To answer your question, in my opinion there is nothing wrong with your little girl. Children go through so many changes and we as parents have to view these sort of things as temporary. I have an 8.5 year old daughter as well and all of her ''concering behaviors'' change so much and improve with time. It seems like the ones that I really worried about most got much worse before better.
In addition, I have read a little bit in a developmental psych book about the ''irrational fear stage,'' and it takes place during toddler years and sounds very similar to what you are noticing. Maybe you can look that term up. All in all, I can say that once I stopped giving my little one so much attention for her ''scary scenarios,'' they have definetly lightened up.
Today we are going to visit a Santa and I just assume she will stay as far away as possible while her sister goes to collect her gift. And, so be it! Best to you! Another ''scared'' tot!
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