Fear of flying--a phase or serious?

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Fear of flying--a phase or serious?
7
Wed, 01-21-2009 - 2:43pm

My DS has a fear of flying or going on a boat, although he has been on one cruise and has flown a few times where nothing ever happened. When that plane had to crash land in the Hudson River recently, I was hoping he wouldn't even hear about it, but of course he did. When we were watching the inauguration, I mentioned would he like to go to Washington, DC and he said no because he would have to fly. Of course, he brought up the plane crash. I try logic, like how many planes fly every day and don't crash, compared to one that did. I say that more people get in car accidents than plane crashes and he still goes in a car. His response is that he really can't avoid going in a car, but he doesn't have to go in a plane. He is just too smart for his own good!

It bugs me because I would like to go on vacation w/ him and his sister (I am getting divorced from 2nd DH, not their father.) So if he won't fly or go on a cruise (although he did go on one w/ dad & survived), plus he doesn't like to be in the car for a long ride, that really limits where we can go. We are near the East Coast, so we can go to the beach or go to the mountains in NH, but I have been to those places many times. I would like to go somewhere new. On the other hand, he really doesn't care if he goes to any new places either. It's very frustrating.

Do I just give up & hope he outgrows it? Do I just go on all vacations from now on w/ my friends and leave him home? At what point do you think professional help is necessary?

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-11-2007
Wed, 01-21-2009 - 3:05pm
i would guess you might want to ask for help when it affects day to day living.There are times when he may need to go on a long car ride,but as long as he does it it really would not be a problem.I guess he is right that you really do not have to fly,but if he really has a fear of it and you want to take a flying vacation,you may be able to get him anti aniexty meds.My bff developed a fear of flying and they had a chance to go to The Rose Bowl and we live in Pa,so driving wasn't an option.She ended up going to a hyponatist,so she could get on the planeBefore I left him at home,I might get him some help,since it is stopping him from having fun.I would not think it is a big thing and if you plan to take short driving jaunts I would not worry too much.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Wed, 01-21-2009 - 3:51pm
Ironically he doesn't have such a fear of flying that it would cause major anxiety. In other words, I have heard of people who have major panic disorders, white knuckle fear, that kind of thing if they have to fly. I have taken him to Disney World twice (3 hour flight), once when he was about 5 and once when he was 9 and when I "made" him go, then on the plane he was perfectly fine. Once we went on one of those planes that has the TV screen in the back of each seat and he was totally engrossed in watching TV, or he will read or have his IPod or whatever, so if he's actually on the plane, I don't think he is any more nervous than the average person. I have to admit that I'm less thrilled than I used to be about flying and recently when I flew from Prov., RI to Newark, NJ, the plane was pretty small. I'd rather be on a larger plane cause I feel less claustrophobic, but since I love to travel, I'll put up w/ the plane in order to get to the destination. I know that if I told him "we're going" he would go and be fine, although probably whine about it for a while. But he wouldn't cry or anything like that.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
Wed, 01-21-2009 - 4:31pm
At this point, I would just encourage him to talk about his fear when it comes up, and I wouldn't try to hide news like the Hudson River crash from him. Kids this age do know the news, so there's no chance of him not finding out, and it would only cause more fear. Once you get your tickets, let him know and let him talk about it in a matter of fact way. If you're certain he won't freak out at the airport, then just let the trip happen. A safe flight will do more than anything else to help him get over his fear or at least face it.
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-01-2003
Thu, 01-22-2009 - 10:46pm

As someone with a lifelong fear of flying, getting on the plane is never, ever easy for me, and I used to spend the flight crying or gripping the seat rest so tightly that my hands had cuts.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2005
Thu, 01-22-2009 - 10:58pm

My son is definitely the opposite. he watched a show about plane crashes the last time he was ON a plane and it didn't bother him. I'm sure the person beside him probably wasn't too happy about it.

Anyway, it sounds like he's made up his mind so why not get him to talk to someone before his fear becomes all-encompassing. I have always had a mild fear of something and over the past 3 years it has mutated into an all out phobia that negatively affects the quality of my life -- and the lives of my kids and those around me. its terrible and I have shifted my life around to accomodate the phobia and it really sucks!!

I don't know what I'm trying to say really...I know how your son feels when you know something isn't rational but you are afraid anyway.Its such a sinking feeling. Well, it couldn't hurt to talk to a therapist or something. I'm sure fear of flying is extremely common so they would know how to deal with it.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-07-2004
Sun, 01-25-2009 - 7:26am

I have a fear of flying, but I do it anyway because I know what fun I'll have when I get to on the ground at the other end.


Maybe the choice needs to go to son - either fly OR drive long distances - but maybe he can't choose no to both? Our kids do well on long trips with LOTS of electronic entertainment like DVDs, iPods, CDs, books on tape, etc.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Sun, 01-25-2009 - 11:53am
I personally have no desire to drive on long car trips--about 5 hrs is my limit, so that would definitely limit the choices of where to go. I think that w/ him, right now he is in a phase where he doesn't have much desire to go anywhere, so it's not phasing him. A couple of years ago, he was excited that we were going to Disney World, so he put up w/ going on a plane to get there, but he really doesn't care if he goes anywhere or not, where I really like to travel, so it's annoying to me. Recently I went to Florida w/ a friend & left him w/ his dad. So I"ll tell him "I asked you if you wanted to go on vacation and you keep saying no, so then don't complain if I go & leave you home." He would be just as happy going to a motel next door to the house (if there was one) as long as they had a pool and a TV. Even when we went to NYC, our hotel didn't have a pool, but he would have been as happy to stay in the hotel watching TV (as if we don't have TV at home) and eating in the hotel. He did like Times Square though and seeing where MTV TRL was shot and the big Toys R Us store, but thought the Empire State Bldg. was boring and he hates museums. I am really hoping this is a phase that he will outgrow.