Childhood Fears

motwoSeptember 30, 2007

I am wanting to know and read about other parents experiances's with their child's fears. My mother in law told me after she has my son over night that he is having anxiety over his fear of dark and heights and she seemed to feel they were a bit extreme. My son is 7 for starters and yes he is afraid of the dark and of heights. Because he is a child and knowing it is normal for children to have fears of the unknown I do not think it is a big deal.My son is also a drama queen at best.So while he was walking up the church's three flights of stairs he was more then likely complaining that it is such a long way down and how afraid he was, I belive you can see through the stairs. As for the dark I know he will ask for me to turn on a light and perfers to sleep with the light on till he falls asleep which I then put on his night light.He has always had these fears and I do not find them extreeme. I also don't think they are causing him panic issues as I do know he likes to make a big deal out of everything not just the stuff he is afraid of.His fears are not interupting daily life so I am not worried.So am I right to think these are normal fears and is there any sugestions to help him over come them other then to give it all time?And how should I go about trying to assure the mother in law that my son is fine and doesn't need to see a dr over his childhood fears?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You are his mother,you know best. Maybe your mother-in-law,with good intensions,is just doing what my mom has done so often.If she is "feeding" into your son's fears,of course it is going to seem worse.My mom has done this with my daughter and it drives me crazy.
If my daughter is scared of the dark (and she still kinda is at almost ten) I will tell her something like,"Your door is open and mommy is right here~so you have nothing to worry about."
My mom would be like,"OOOOH! You're scared of the dark!!!"and make a big production out of it.So my daughter would feed off of her negativity and it was always worse at her house.
Then my mom would make a big deal about it,saying,"She was up until 4am watching cartoons because she was too scared to sleep".
Who is the parent and who is the child here? I'd get mad at my mom and wonder WHY she didnt just act firm and tell her to go to sleep instead of allowing her to stay up all night!

Kids will act however they see adults acting.Like when they fall down,if we make a big deal of it,they cry and carry on.If we say,"Oh just brush yourself off,you're alright" Then they hardly cry at all.
If you honestly dont feel like your son has irrational fears,then dont worry about it.These fears are very normal and almost never need therapy.
Just politely tell your mother in law you appreciate her concern but it is something you are working on and it is going fine.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2007 at 5:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My DD is 7. I took her to a gymnastics meet in the arena at UGA. Our seats were quite high and she was nervous and at first didn't want to go up to them. But I said I drove all the way over here for this and we are not missing it b/c you don't want to climb steps. Just don't look down. She got used to it after a little while and was fine. Though she still says she hopes our seats this year aren't so hight. I didn't think of it as a chronic fear of heights, just nervousness. A few weeks later she attended a school field trip to a theatre for a live performance. The mother who chaperoned called me later and wanted to make sure I knew about my daughter's fear of heights, she was nervous getting to their seats in the balcony. I told her thank you, I'm glad you were there. But I still don't think of this as a phobia. It's just normal, but gets worse when it is encouraged.

She is not bothered by the dark, but she doesn't like thunderstorms. They make her a little anxious, she will say she hopes it doesn't storm when she's going to a friends house b/c the unfamiliar environment makes it harder. Still, I think it's within the range of normal.

My oldest was afraid of owls, of all things. He was younger, I think he was about 4. He didn't like the thought of owls outside and wouldn't dare go outside after dark. I don't know where it came from. So that Halloween we asked him what he wanted to dress up as. DH said something like "what is the scariest thing to be?" Naturally, DS said "AN OWL!" Then is was set in his mind, he wanted to be an owl for trick or treat. For weeks if anyone asked, his answer never changed. So I made him an owl costume by hand, hot glued feathers for hours. The day came, he put the costume on, took one look in the mirror and ran away screaming, scared of himself! LOL! He got over it and still wore the costume trick or treating. But was very confused when people told him he was "so cute" b/c he thought he had the scariest costume in the neighborhood! ;o)

I agree your son's fears sound normal from what you've said. I also agree that these fears grow if they are fed. It's best to sympathize just enough to provide security, and support to get through it. Facing fears is part of life. I think it sounds like your son is dealing with his fears just fine and wouldn't expect them to last too long. At this age they really understand that there is risk, but haven't figured out how to protect themselves, so there is fear.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2007 at 7:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would not make a big deal out of it, because that could make the problem worse. Even if it is a serious problem, I'm not sure you can do anything about it. My husband was claustrophobic and he couldn't change. We had my son and his family living with us for 3 months while moving to our state, getting a job and an apartment. Right off the mother started in on one of her boys, the one she didn't like from birth. I told everyone, meal time is a peaceful time at our house, we talk about what we have done today, etc.. I said if Scotty doesn't want to eat we will cover his plate up and he can have it when he gets hungry and no one gets desert unless they eat their meal. No problem after that. It was the mother that was the problem anyway.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2007 at 8:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You are his mother, you know him best.

Yes, agree with Jonesy, don't bake a big deal out of it, just reassure him.

I think its really only a problem when he starts avoiding situations because of his fear. Reasonable situations, I mean.

I think I have learnt some fears by watching my mother's reaction to situations. I wish I hadn't watched, because now I find I am having to deal with one in particular. She was a really anxious person.

So be calm, and he will learn not to be anxious about situations, which will help in the long run.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2007 at 8:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Just be aware, however, that some phobias cannot be conquered without professional help. My son showed evidence of claustrophobia at age 3, although we did not recognize it as such until much later in his life. We had tried the "be calm and reassuring" thing but nothing helped until he was put on anti-anxiety meds. Wish we would have caught it sooner, though, as his life would have been easier.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2007 at 6:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm with popi - as long as his fear is not keeping him from doing the things he wants, I wouldn't worry. It might be a good idea to start gradually decreasing the amount of light at night (maybe try a dimmer, nightlight, or a hall light, etc.?) for a couple of reasons - 1. because eventually he may do sleepovers or go camping with friends, and the light may bother his friends, and 2. I read somewhere that sleeping in the light can worsen nearsightedness (and I know you said that you do turn his light off, so that is good).

Be glad he does not have a phobia about automatic flushing toilets, like my dd! she is fearful to the point that I cannot imagine her getting over it. There may be some meds and/or professional help in her future! but for now, she has learned to "hold it" for as long as it takes to find a non-automatic.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2007 at 7:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When my second DD was about 3, she couldn't go to the bathroom in a public rest room. If we'd go to the zoo, she'd end up sitting for 45 minutes or more. She'd cry to stay if I suggested trying later, while oldest DD would cry to get going! Ah, the good old days.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2007 at 11:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That is so funny! My daughter is scared of public bathrooms too. Not the actual toilets,but the bathrooms themselves. I always thought this was a very odd thing,good to know other people's kids have gone through this too!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2007 at 4:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Maybe your son doesn't have an actual "fear" of the dark -- he just prefers to have a light on. My daughters share a bedroom and they always want the hall light on until they fall asleep. No big deal - I wouldn't say they have a fear of the dark. I don't know if I'd let him have the main light in his room on when trying to sleep though -- it would take longer to fall asleep and if you ever travel or if he shares a room with someone that could be a problem. Just compromise and say I'll leave the hall light on until you are asleep.

Don't know what to say about the height thing though.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 12:59AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think, as parents and caregivers, we need to empower our children and give them the skills on how to deal with situations that they find themselves in, and that they are not happy about.

Like the fear of heights, for instance. Gentle exposure, to safe heights, talking through, taking small steps, and reassuring is the way to deal with it. But of course, if they are not receptive to the help...well that's a challenge.

The fear of the dark, turn the lights off for short periods and stay with them, talk about whats going on.

Its about imprinting on their brains with good thoughts and experiences about heights, or darkness, or toilets, and deleting the irrational thoughts that are causing them stress.

This is my theory, but it hasn't been working very successfully with my son's fear of leeches. This stops him actually going outside ! He is 15 and not receptive to me helping I can't help him with that, but he might change.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 3:28AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
College Tuition Demand Upheld in Court
Surprised I hadn't seen anyone post about this yet,...
In-laws that don't get it!
We had to see MIL yesterday for Mother's day. Once...
Nearly 10wks pregnant & have questions
This is my first pregnancy at 24. I don't have many...
A harness for a child that old ?
Looking for a safety harness to keep an escapist toddler...
Estrangement from adult child
I am, and have been, estranged from my adult child...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™