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DD aged 3 scared by everything!

(6 Posts)
fourquartets Sun 04-Jan-15 23:28:48

My DD is a very confident, happy and cheerful 3 year old but lately terrified by almost all tv and stories with any sense of danger or jeopardy at all. Over Christmas, Mary Poppins was terrifying and she ended up insisting I turn it off ("the children will get lost", "they don't know where their mummy is"' "what if they fall off the ceiling..."), Wallace and Gromit, The Bee movie and even a CBeebies episode of Abney and Teal were too much. Yesterday a baby version Beatrix Potter book was too scary because "Peter might get hurt" and she started crying. I am really surprised by all of this because she always seems such a brave and happy little thing, although friends and family have commented before that she is very thoughtful and always thinks things through - yesterday she got worried about why we don't fall off the earth if it's a big ball and she does talk about death quite a lot since my mother's dog died.

So, any advice on whether this is a normal stage or on how I can help her manage her fears? I don't want her too terrified to ever watch anything other than in the night garden!

Thank you!

howcomes Mon 05-Jan-15 03:50:56

I think it's probably fairly normal, my ds aged 4.8 went through a few phases of suddenly being really scared of any number of strange things. One day he was suddenly terrified of walking downstairs (we have always lived in a house with stairs and he'd happily been walking and running up and down them the day prior!). He was petrified and couldn't come down until his dad helped. It lasted a whole morning and and again a week or so later with no rhyme or reason.

We had a phase when he was scared of dying and other terrifying things have included the hoover, local toyshop, public toilets, any new place, kids programmes on TV etc etc.

The only thing I can advise is just going with the flow, understanding her fear and talking to her about what it is that scares her, explaining things in detail (to her level) and just being reasonable about it all, not forcing her to watch anything she doesn't want to etc etc. Her fear may disappear as quickly as it came (hopefully!)

fourquartets Mon 05-Jan-15 18:07:43

Thank you, that's reassuring! My mum is always telling me what an anxious child I was and I was beginning to wonder if I'd subconsciously imparted some kind of anxiety. I don't think I seem scared of the Octonauts but who knows?! I suppose we just keep comforting and hope it passes.

Ferguson Mon 05-Jan-15 19:19:50

How relevant was the death of the dog? Was she very fond of it, and did it play a large part in her life?

There are so many things in modern life that a young child cannot understand or comprehend, even though they may make use of them, such as TV, mobile phones, computers etc.

Even things in the media that are intended for children have, in recent years, got increasingly dramatic, violent, and possibly inappropriate.

I would guess that she is probably intelligent, and thinks deeply and creatively about things that could seem, to her, potential hazards, and doesn't know how she could confront or cope with them.

If possible, I would avoid all TV while she is around to see or hear it, and even avoid stories that have any degree of threat in them. I worked with primary age children for twenty-five years, as TA or voluntary helper, and there are many things that can confuse, unsettle, annoy or worry children, that adults cannot see any rational explanation for.

When our DS was four and we were on holiday in the Lake District, I made the mistake of telling him that the mountain we were on had, many millions of years ago been a volcano, and he became worried in case it could erupt again.

Conversely, things that could be dangerous may not be understood by a child. Taking him to school by car, we were waiting to turn right across oncoming traffic on a country main road and I commented on how long it was taking for there to be a suitable gap. He said: Yes, we don't want to crash, it would scratch the paint!

fourquartets Mon 05-Jan-15 20:00:46

Thanks Ferguson. I don't think the dog dying was particularly significant - she never met him and it only came up because she saw a photo and asked who the dog was and my mother, in her rather blunt way, said "that's my old dog but he's died and gone to heaven now." Which led to lots of questions about what dying meant and where heaven was. But it's difficult to predict what will turn out to have been on her mind because she often doesn't talk about things till a while after. For example, we had a friend go off on a trip abroad recently and it was only a couple of weeks later that she asked very nervously if we'd ever see her again and if she was "with God", so she had obviously been worrying away about where friend had gone and if she was dead.

I am interested about what you say about a lot of what's on tv being too much for them at this age. I was brought up without any exposure to tv at all and felt as if it wasn't a good thing so have tried to expose her to some - hence trying to watch Mary Poppins with her (first time for both of us!), but it obviously isn't enjoyable for her if she's constantly worried about what might happen next.

Ferguson Mon 05-Jan-15 23:41:01

I guess children pick up on details that an adult wouldn't even notice, but a child's imagination builds it up to something major, and maybe scary.

I don't know how much children remember of early experiences; I can't remember starting school, for instance, but then I never really liked school, so may be I 'blocked it out'. So it was ironic I had 25 years working in schools, but I was always careful to give children the supportive experience I wish I could have had.

My mum told me I cried at Bambi, but I don't remember it myself. (I'm now taking advantage of it being on TV, so maybe some memory may come back!) Something I remember did scare me, but I would probably have been seven or more, was a jungle film, where a light aircraft crashes, and there are crocodiles. I never understood why I was taken to see that, but I think maybe it was only a 'trailer' and we had actually gone to see Wizard of Oz (when it first came out!)

During WW2 we lived on the banks of the River Severn, in the middle of what is now the Ironbridge Gorge Museum site at Jackfield. A tiny footpath through the village went under a tile factory, beneath the kilns, and I remember being scared of the heat from the metal roof. I wish now I had talked to my mother about it, as it could have been an almost historic event, now most of the industry has gone. A few years after we left the village, the row of cottages fell into the river in 1952. (You can find details under what was known as 'The Jackfield slip', should you be interested.)

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