May 21, 2009

Irrational Fears, revisited

I have a small problem. I have a daughter who is scared of things. She is 4. I know, I know, every child is scared of something. (For me it was spiders. And a giant clown coming up out of the drain. Thanks, Dad.)

The fact that she is scared of things is not the problem. It's the fact that the fear debilitates her.

She is scared of fire. Her birthday happens to be on Pioneer Day, which creates the happy circumstance of fireworks ON her birthday. (happy to me, at least) Last year when we attempted to do fireworks with her she had a running and screaming episode to rival only Ricky Bobby, but, thankfully, fully dressed. I know. You're thinking, "lots of kids are scared of fireworks," right? Well how about birthday candles? Yes. She is afraid of birthday candles. They are fire. The other day when we celebrated Grandpa's birthday she hid in the corner of the kitchen, as far away from the cake as possible, until he had blown out his candles.

She is also afraid of the bath water. But only when it's running. She will not sit down in the bathtub while the water is running. She will stand in the corner farthest from the faucet shaking until I turn the water off. Her explanation: She is afraid that the bathtub will overflow. That is as much as I can get out of her. She's not afraid of running through the sprinklers. Or going swimming. (Though, jumping off the diving board is a different story.)

And I am about at the end of my rope. These are only a few examples. Yesterday, the vacuum started to give off that burning smell. (It needs a new band.) She ran in the room panicked, that the house was going to burn down. And she wouldn't get near the vacuum.

I have tried reassuring. I have tried reasoning. I have tried yelling. I have tried loving. I just don't know what else to do.

What do you think?


Kristina P. said...

Hmmmm, it seems like these are full blown phobias.

I may be overstepping my bounds, but there are therapists who specialize in working with children, and they might be able to help with this issue.

Melinda said...

My oldest is "sensitive", which means everything bothers her, and her tear ducts are hardwired to everything (meaning she cries...A LOT). I don't know how to help you, I try to just be honest with her and not make a big deal out of stuff (not that I don't, I still freak out over stupid stuff sometimes) that might scare her. :) Sorry I'm not much help! :(

wonder woman said...

Beat it out of her.


(Can you tell it's been one of those days?)

Mallory said...

I'm sorry, I'm not going to be any help. But I find this absolutely hilarious. (Yeah, I probably won't be laughing when it's my own kid).

Also, love the new background.

And congrats on eating dairy again!

hippyrochelle said...

I totally don't know how to help you. Maybe she will grow out of it. My oldest used to be afraid of water touching his face, and he grew out of it (after 3 years). I don't know. Sorry!

Emily said...

My son is only 2, but he is very sensitive and scared of things I don't understand. He actually comforts himself often, saying, "It's okay, Charlie. It's okay." And he says all kinds of things are "scary," and I have no idea why. Like I said, he's only 2, so I don't know how this will develop as he gets older. All I can do right now is try to reason with him. (Reason with a 2-year-old?)

Carolyn said...

Honestly, it's very common. There are so many neurological influences now that it may be that these things are so much more intense to her than a more *normal* child.

There are many books out there on sensitivities and psychological differences that might really help you understand your daughter. The upside is that these children tend to be very intelligent and/or creative in other ways :)

Heidi Ashworth said...

I would run it past a school psychologist or something to make sure she doesn't have anxiety issues. If she needs meds, the sooner she gets them the better. Anxiety meds are pretty benign and not addictive. On the other hand, she very well might be on the intense side of normal. (I used to be anti-meds until half of my family became suicidal at one time or another. I still hate them but they sure do the trick!)

Linds said...

I have no words of wisdom for you, but I do recall having an irrational fear that sharks could swim through the pipes and that one was just lurking under the bathtub. I obviously grew out of that, but I'm still terrified of clowns.

Debbie said...

That is a toughie. I have nothing to add to the good suggestions already given but good luck with it all. I think my favorite was Heidi's "the intense side of normal". I like that phrase.

Melissa Bastow said...

My 4 year old is so much like that. When he was two I was so sick of him freaking out over everything that I got some help. It turned out that he had enough sensitivity problems to warrant occupational therapy, and it actually helped. Well, it helped some. He's still a very anxious child - so then we checked out a psychologist....until we got the bill. HOLY COW.

Melissa Bastow said...


I like your new layout.

And you have my button!!!!!! I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

heather said...

If I told you ALL my thougts/ beliefs on a subject such as this, I'm pretty sure you just might think of me as a quack. :)

BUT, maybe you should let the bath water over flow just once or twice.

Momza said...

One of my daughters was TERRIFIED of balloons. BALLOONS!
Now you may not think much about that until you realize that there are balloons everywhere:
Restaurants, car dealerships, WALMART, grocery stores, BIRTHDAY PARTIES...oh yeah, that was a fun couple of years. Then, she grew up!

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