5 yo dd fear and anxiety (a little long)

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-12-2007
5 yo dd fear and anxiety (a little long)
Tue, 06-12-2007 - 12:40pm
Hello, I am new to the board and I need some advice. Everyone seems so nice here. I have reached a point with my dd and I don't know how to handle this. It started last year with soccer. She would go to practice and have fun, but when it came to game time, she wouldn't play. She would cling onto me and just cry and cry. I kind of just let it go, thinking she didn't like playing with the boys in the "herd" trying to get the ball.( There were other girls on the team also). We have tried swim lessons... same thing. A couple lessons into it she just wants to stop and crys and won't participate. This summer we signed her up for t-ball and was really excited. They had 3 or 4 practices before their 1st game and all went well. Then on gameday she wouldn't play. She just gets frantic. She goes to every practice and loves it, but won't play on gameday. She has been going to preschool for the past 2 years and will begin kindergarten in the fall. Her school district has a 2-week session going on right now called "Get Ready for Kindergarten." Last week and yesterday went wonderful and then today she just crys and acts like she's scared to death. I am just not sure what to do. She has always been shy around adults, but a little better with kids. It just seems like she has so much fear and anxiety about new things. Is it normal for a 5 yo to be this nervous and scared? It just seems like I am always the mother on the side helping my crying dd while the other kids participate. Any suggustions? Thank you all for reading my looong message!!!
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-31-2004
Tue, 06-12-2007 - 2:22pm

Does she ask to take part in these activities? I mean ... was she excited at the prospect of playing soccer, or was it your idea? Some of how I handled this with my own children would depend on whether they asked to do it or chose to do it, or if signing them up was all my idea and they weren't too keen on it from the beginning. If it was my idea, I might just let it go, saying, "Oh well - I thought it would be fun, but I guess not." But when my children initially ask to do something - or they choose to do it when I offer it to them, I am a little stricter about their level of participation. I might say, "Sweetie, you chose to take swimming this year. I know it is turning out to be harder then you thought, but I've already paid for it, so we are going to finish it to the end. How can I help you to feel better about going? What is it about swimming that you don't like?" One year, my son absolutely refused to get in to the pool after a few lessons. What I finally got out of him was that he thought there might be orca whales in the pool! We checked with the swim instructor, who gravely assured us that no whales or fish of any kind were allowed in her pool. My son did go back in the pool, but if he hadn't, my plan had been to continue to go to lessons, but to sit and watch and 'cheer his friends on' who were still taking the lessons. Thankfully, we didn't have to do that, but that was the plan... And I know that swimming can be pretty intimidating. I have learned that having a great teacher makes ALL the difference in the world for easing swimming fears. If it were me and I could afford it, I might put your daughter in private swimming lessons with a highly recommended instructor. You might get a lot more value for your money that way.

Also, I would say that soccer is probably not the best sport for a shy child. My son did soccer his first grade year and really hated it. He is just not aggressive enough to feel comfortable getting in there with the other kids and kicking the ball around. In first grade, I made my son choose one sport to do for each season. I told him that next year he wouldn't have to do that, but I wanted him to try the different sports to see if there were any he liked. So he understood that it was kind of a trial thing that year. He did soccer in the fall, Basketball in the winter and Track and Field in the Spring. Track is what he ended up liking and sticking with. So we swim in the winter and run in the spring and summer. It works, but I'm glad that I didn't force him to stick with basketball or soccer. Everyone has to find out what they like to do.

I suppose with your daughter, I would make a point of asking her to tell me what it was that she was so worried about. If she can name her fear, then she can think of ways to conquer it - come up with ways to solve the problem. I would not coddle her crying and 'breaking down' at these events, but I would quietly and lovingly help her to get control back "Breathe, sweetie. You are fine. I'm here..." Then ask her what it is that is causing her to feel so upset about participating. Then you can deal with her answer. An example I can think of is my daughter and ballet. She started back when she was three years old and she would absolutely come undone if another dancer bumped in to her. If she got 'bumped' she simply could not participate for the rest of the class. So we brainstormed about thing she could do to avoid getting bumped (because there was no convincing her that bumping wasn't so bad!). She agreed to stand at the end of the line of girls - a little away from the others. And we talked about what would happen if she did get bumped. She could run to me for a hug and sit with me for three minutes. But after that she had to go back. Basically, we came up with a plan for how we would deal with those inevitable 'bumps.' It was still a bit rocky, but I think we both felt better knowing what the plan was. And she eventually grew out of this issue - thank goodness.

Anyhow - hope this helps a little,