anyone have a fearful child?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
anyone have a fearful child?
6
Fri, 06-06-2003 - 4:00pm
hello, and happy summer holiday to everyone! I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas for me regarding my youngest daughter's fear. She has been scared for a couple of years now, off an on, about "bad guys"...not monsters, bad guys...she follows me around the house when she is feeling scared, and has a hard time going to sleep at night. She will come in our bed maybe once a month in the middle of the night, when she's woken and is scared...used to be worse when I told her she couldn't come in our bed...than she woudld take hours to fall asleep, cuz she dreaded going to sleep adn knowing she couldn't come in our bed...just telling her she could if she really needed to, eased her mind enough to help her fall asleep. I think it started aobut the time that girl, the one in the news, was taken from her bedroom by that weird guy and his wife, forgot the name. it seems to come and go, but it's back again, and it makes me upset. I had to leave for a class for a couple of hours last night, and had my sis in law come up, and she was freaking out...I got mad at her, and told her I was getting really tired of this, she needs to grow up now, and let mommy do some stuff again (like go out with daddy) (you know, one of those parenting blunder moments...lol), and of course, she cried in her room, and said I'm sorry for being in your life...oh gosh lol...(hormones)...we are very close, she and I, so this may all sound terrible, but it's just another moment in the life of our family. My older 2 are not like this, and just look perplexed....any suggestions? I know that childhood fears are normal, I can remember being scared of stuff, but this is getting silly now...or is it...I don't really want to take her to a counsellor or anything, cuz she is really shy, and it might make it worse...do kids grow out of stuff like this? I forgot....HELPPPPPPPPPPp please..... thanks! (oh, she is 10)
Avatar for frugal_mom_of2
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-02-2003
Fri, 06-06-2003 - 5:21pm
We live in a very scary world. When people can break into someone's home and take your kid right out of their room at night right under your nose, that's terrifing! We live in a county with NO crime. The biggest thing that happens here is when someone gets busted for drugs. We go years without a rape, murder, break in , etc. A VERY safe area and I was still totally freaked out by that child being kidnapped. Our bedrooms are in the basement and when the kids go to bed early and I am upstairs reading or watching tv I use a nursery monitor! And mine are 7 and 11 LOL!

I would sit her down and tell her that you understand her fear. That you know that she saw the news about that girl and that you too were upset by it. But that we can't live our entire lives being afraid of things like that. All that we can do is put our trust in God(if you are religious), do everything in our power to be safe(locks on doors and windows, alarm, etc) and then live our life! REALLY talk to her about it. Ask her what her greatest fear is and then work with her to solve it. No, you can't guarantee that someone will never kidnap her, but you can do everything in your power to educate and protect her. If you can do some little things to make her feel safer, do them. Put a deadbolt on the doors if you don't have them, give her a whistle for her room that she can blow if she thinks someone is in there, give her a flashlight for her room, let the dog sleep in her room, etc.

Tell her that if she gets afraid at night she can come and get you and you will get up and make sure the house and her room is safe, but then she MUST go back to her room. Tell her that you WILL be going out to do the things you want and promise her that you will always leave her with a capable adult who will do their best to protect her. Ask her who makes her feel most comfortable and try to get that person to stay with her. If possible, maybe see if she could stay with a friend or grandparents home rather than at your house when you go out.

Most of all ASK her what she fears most and what you can do to make it better. Let her help come up with things that will make her better and of course keep them within reason. (don't agree to never go out again or to let her sleep with you every night!) Letting her talk it out and giving her the chance to express her opinion and come up with ways to solve the problem will help!

I would also try to keep the news off when she is around for a while. Try to make her world a happy one for now until she gets over this fear.

When my dd was about 8 or 9 she reached a point where she would NOT go outside and play. Just the mention of it sent her in to hysterics. She finally told us she was afraid that an airplane would fly over and crash on her. Silly? Yes! But it was really real to her. So we talked about how rare it is for a plane to crash, how neither dh nor I had ever heard of one crashing onto a little girl playing in the yard, how dh was in the Navy and stationed on an aircraft carrier. How he worked on the flight deck and planes took off and landed right there with him every day and none ever crashed onto anyone. AND we insisted that she play outside! At first we told her she could come into the house if she heard or saw a plane. Then after a while we told her to shut her eyes and count until it was over. Within a couple of weeks she was over it!

Good luck!

Sherri

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-07-2003
Sat, 06-07-2003 - 12:24pm
I have a child like this! Church camp is coming up and she really wants to go, but she has a fear of staying the night away from her sister, or myself. She will not spend the night with anyone unless one of us is with her. She cries because she knows she is different and asked me if I can take her to the doctor so he can give her some medicine to fix this. It breaks my heart because it causes her so much pain. Just don't know what to do for her. My oldest daughter never went through this kind of stage, if you can call it that. Anyone with help out there, please pass it along!
Avatar for cl_janetlh
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Sat, 06-07-2003 - 8:46pm
Welcome! How many nights is church camp? What is she most concerned about? If she really wants to go, maybe you can work on something she can take with her - like a small photo alubm - to keep her company when she misses you. Talk about the activities at camp, and how she'll be too busy having fun to miss you. If you really feel she's not ready to be away, perhaps you should wait another summer. My 11yo ds is going to camp for 2 weeks, but his twin sister doesn't feel ready, so she's waiting a year. Glad you found our board and jumped in!

Janet

Janet


Jewish Family Life

Avatar for cl_janetlh
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Sat, 06-07-2003 - 8:48pm
Welcome! Once again, I think Sherri's got it covered with some terrific suggestions for you. Please let us know what works so other will benefit from your experience. I just jumped in to welcome you - glad you found us! -Janet

Janet


Jewish Family Life

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sun, 06-08-2003 - 12:34am
thanks sherri! lots of good advice! she's not afraid staying at a friend's house at all...that's the wierd thing...and she is also going to camp this summer (5 nights), and only a little nervous...we talked about camp, and she doesn't think she will be scared, cuz there are lots of people around..it's more when she is alone in her bed that her mind wanders..., I guess...poor kid...

but ya, I keep communication open, and I think it's just a time thing.

one thing did help that is new though...I was explaining to her, that I could choose to be afraid of anything if I wanted to...for example, I can't step on a crack or I'll really break my mother's back, I better not leave the house, cuz I might get run over, better not go over the bridge or it might fall, better not go into that store, or the roof might fall, and she started to laugh at me...later on, she said, "mommy, that helped me...I thought to myself, I can be scared all the time, but I dont' want to...." so, maybe, just maybe, something sunk in???

nice to hear from other moms, it takes a villiage!, that's for sure. cheers!
Avatar for keke0116
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sun, 06-08-2003 - 8:14am
Haven't read the other replies, so I'm sorry if I'm redundant. But, it is difficult not to be afraid of 'life' sometimes ... when crazy things happen like a child being abducted from her bedroom in the middle of the night with her parents down the hall. I know when Jimmy Ryce was kidnapped and then found murdered (butchered!) it was very scary, especially because he lived close enough to us to be extremely frightening (and he had gone to the same school as DS, only a few years earlier.) DS was scared, but we reminded him of all the ways he is safe ... we live in a safe neighborhood, we have an alarm system for the house which is set every night, our bedroom is right next to his, etc. Then, you have a situation like Elizabeth Smart, and all the things that you've done and said to make your child feel 'safe' go out the window.

I think that you have to empower children to some extent. My kids, for instance, both take karate. And, although I don't think either of them would be able to take down a 6' tall man trying to abduct them, I do think they have learned enough 'techniques' to possibly (hopefully) get away in that type of situation. The karate instructor also spends time talking to them about 'what to do' in various situations, and I think just knowing that they are not necessarily at the mercy of adults is helpful. (I know, as a kid, I was always taught to repect my elders, not argue with adults, and such ... and I'm pretty sure that because of that, I would probably freeze in such a situation. My kids are also taught to be respectful, but they know that not all adults are 'good and nice' and in a situation, they can do whatever they need to to get away.)

I guess my point is that talking to your DD and perhaps role-playing different scenarios might help just so that she has some idea of what to do in different situations. And, although things like what happened to Elizabeth Smart do happen, it is still a very rare and isolated incident.

My DD goes through phases where she has nightmares and is scared, and she'll end up in our bed ... which is o.k. except that we don't sleep. So, when that happens, I made her a bed on the floor (blankets and pillows) and tell her that she needs to go to sleep in her room, but if she wakes up and is scared, she can go to sleep there.

But, you do want to keep an eye on this. Having some fears about the world is normal, but if it gets to the point where she isn't functioning well ... where she is so clingy that she isn't allowing you to go out at night, or she isn't socializing with other kids or doing things that typical 10-11 y.o. kids do, then you may want to have her evaluated for anxiety-disorder, even if you do it just to rule out the possibility.

(((HUGS))) and Good luck.

Nancy

Nancy 

<?xml:namespace prefix = v ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml" />