DS2(4) has become terrified of loads of things. What can we do to help him?

(27 Posts)
McKayz Fri 03-May-13 17:36:00

It started off with spiders and has so far progessed to all bugs, except butterflies, castles, snakes and the woods.

If he sees a spider or bug then his eyes go wide open, he screams and tries to get away. This has led to a couple of moments where he has almost ended up in the road and almost off a cliff. I don't think he thinks, he just runs.

We've recently been on holiday and he didn't want to go into a castle which had previously never been a problem. We live near a forestry commission and have got a yearly pass as we went a lot last year. Now suddenly he is scared of going for a walk in the woods.

He completely freaked out at a runner bean plant last week but with the help of his nursery teacher we worked out that there was a little cobweb on the pot it was in.

What can we do to help him? Most of the time he is a very happy little boy and it is horrible seeing him so scared.

He's 4 and goes to nursery every afternoon. His teachers say he is very happy and gets on well with everyone.


Wellthen Mon 06-May-13 09:25:15

I agree with ballstoit. I watched an episode of Tiny Tearaways where Dr Byron did this. The little girl was terrified of all animals to the point of hysterics. She told the parents to stop picking her up or taking her away from the animals. Instead the stood still holding her hand saying 'its ok, they are nothing to be afraid of'

Children watch your reactions all the time. When you smile at something or laugh they know it is ok. When they are frightened, we as adults respond with fear and anxiety but the anxiety comes from our distressed child not the source of the fear. They cant tell the difference. By scooping them up and cuddling them you confirm their fears.

No one is suggesting you ignore his distress. But stay calm and explain that everything is ok.

working9while5 Mon 06-May-13 11:47:53

Ended up in the road and almost off a cliff sounds like time for professional help even if just in book format, walk or no walk.

You can validate his distress without reinforcing excessive and dangerous behaviour. Cuddling, reassuring, long explanations and helping him avoid insects even if you are still going where they may be would be unhelpful. Not saying you are doing this but I would be very cautious about letting these extreme panic tantrums go without a serious strategy to dampen their extremes. This is fine and somewhat normal if getting a bit less so if it causes potentially dangerous escape behaviour but if it is handled poorly this could become something very hard for you all.

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