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Stranger anxiety- 18 month old. Does it get better?

(10 Posts)
Katew82 Sun 18-Sep-16 09:14:59

I'm hoping to get some advice or just hear from other mums that have been through this. From about the age of 8 months my little boy has cried at people who talk to him or look at him. He has warmed to my mil who looks after him twice a week now which is good but he still crys at strangers and family and friends. He is now 18 months and he has got a bit better in that he just moves his head away now instead of crying but yesterday in the bus queue a lady spoke to him and he went crazy. I used to take him to a baby group but he got so upset that we stopped going. I take him out everyday and he is fine surrounded by people in shops or in the park but if someone speaks to him he hates it. I just feel so isolated and its so stressful when we go to visit anyone or if people come to our house. My hv said he will grow out of it? Has anyone else experienced the same? Did it get better?

Eastie77 Sun 18-Sep-16 18:17:20

Yes. My daughter was exactly the same. She cried and sometimes screamed hysterically at anyone who smiled, spoke or looked at her. Her anxiety began very early (around 7 months). She was absolutely fine in busy environments with lots of people but was not happy if anyone addressed her directly. She slowly improved and things were much better around roughly the time she turned 2. I feel your pain and remember how stressful I found it in social situations and when people visited the house. In the end I just limited taking her out to certain events and only invited a few people over (several friends and relatives were quite judgemental and declared that she was simply spoilt or a drama queen so I tended to avoid them). She is 3 yrs now and still very wary/shy around strangers but she grew out of the general anxiety in her own time as I'm sure your little boy will.

Her younger brother is 11 months old and the complete opposite. Grins at everyone and happily babbles away when strangers talk to him.

Katew82 Sun 18-Sep-16 19:15:07

Thank you for replying. Sometimes it feels like my little boy is the only child in the world like it. I have had the comments about spoiling and he is doing it for attention! My brother in law even said 'he needs to get out more'. He gets taken to lots of places and goes out everyday! Can I ask what your daughter is like now with strangers? Does she just shy away? X

Eastie77 Sun 18-Sep-16 20:13:31

It depends. If a stranger tries to interact directly with her she still shies away from them. However I had a revelation about a year ago. I took her with me to meet an old friend for brunch. She had never met this person before so I 'warned' my friend about her likely reactions. My friend briefly acknowledged her when we sat down in the cafe but otherwise just spoke to me the whole time we were there. I think she glanced over and spoke to my daughter twice the entire morning. At the end of the brunch I watched in amazement as she happily took my friend's hand and walked off with her. She allowed my friend to carry her across a busy road which is unheard off. I realised that if she is given sufficient time to watch me interacting comfortably with a stranger she will warm up to them but she needs to do this in her own time without anyone trying to force the situation. I've tried and tested this a few times now and it seems to work.

Ignore your BIL. I took my daughter to every baby group going and it didn't make an ounce of difference. Her easy going and sociable brother has not been to a single one (neglected second child!). Every child is different.

LugsTheDog Tue 20-Sep-16 00:23:30

He's 1! Absolutely everything changes between being 1 and a grown up!!

DD spent a lot of time clamped to my lap at groups etc., though she did go to nursery from 12m so had to get used to that. She really came out of herself quite suddenly at 3y4m, and started randomly addressing strangers in shops! She is 9 now, always has her hand up in class, has put herself forward for main parts and school council loads of times.

We tried not to label her as shy or anxious but just said she was warming up or "having a moment".

Daisy1180 Wed 28-Dec-16 10:57:51

My 17 month old daughter is exactly the same! I've taken her to baby groups from early on and always been around family and friends. She is awful when people talk to her in shops - complete hysterics! Even my family members get the same reaction. I have found that asking people to not fuss her helps and she comes round in her own time. But I have found recently that people will completely blank her now which breaks my heart that she's ignored! I'm finding it very difficult to cope with and have starting cancelling outings so we don't have to deal with the disapproving looks or comments 'she miserable - there's a surprise!!
Just wish they could see the happy, bright and beautiful little girl I see at home!

Katew82 Mon 02-Jan-17 21:05:54

Hi Daisy1180. I totally understand. We told people not to fuss or even look at my little boy (who is 21 months now) at first when we go to their houses but that makes me so sad. At Christmas we went to my partners house and his family were there. As soon as we got there I could see them looking at each other as my lb was crying. When they went in the dining room to eat I had to stay and play with him in the living room. It makes me so sad too because he is such a talkative, funny and happy boy when he is at home. I just want to know this might end soon and we can visit friends and family!

Daisy1180 Tue 03-Jan-17 16:38:27

Hi Katew82, it's good to know that it's not just my little one who does this.
People keep saying it does get better so I'm clinging onto that at the moment. I may have a chat with my health visitor too just for a bit more reassurance.
I think I need to explain to my family members a bit more how best to deal with her as they seem to want to be in her face all the time. If they leave her come to them in her own time she's much better. Maybe your partner could explain to his family too that way it would help them understand not to take offence and to be more helpful to you. 😊

Karlosswan Fri 13-Jan-17 09:47:23

My 21 month daughter is the happiest toddler I've known but when a stranger comes to the house she has an absolute meltdown!! Complete switch of character.

She will eventually warm to them and start taking toys over.

IWillOnlyEatBeans Fri 13-Jan-17 11:22:34

Hi OP.

My DS1 is 7 now, but was exactly the same as your DD when he was a toddler. All my friends' children were confident and outgoing, and would toddle off by themselves at groups and softplay. I couldn't leave DS's side. He either spent the whole time sitting on my knee, or I had to be right next to him in the sandpit/ball pool etc. I also felt very isolated and wondered what I had done wrong!

I can't say exactly when he started tolerating social interactions a bit more (he also had the same response to children, if they tried to play with him) - but he is so much better than he used to be. He's not a social butterfly and is still quiet around strangers, but he's unrecognisable from how he was at 18 months.

I agree 100% with Eastie about it being helpful when people ignore him/don't make a big fuss etc. I have 2 sisters - one who would swoop on him with hugs and kisses and one who would wave and smile from across the room. Guess who he warmed too most quickly and guess who still makes him feel uncomfortable?!

As they get older, you find that strangers stop forcing interaction on them so much anyway (toddlers are super cute and everyone wants to chat to them!). So it does become less of an issue.

When the time came for him to start pre-school (I was dreading it!!) we spent a lot of time looking at photos of the staff on the school website, and even printed them off and stuck them on his bedroom wall. We then chatted to the photos (!), told them little jokes etc. So when he started, the faces were a bit familiar. He took a wee while to settle, but did in the end.

I also have DS2, who is the total opposite. He's 4. This time around I can happily sit and drink a cuppa with friends while he runs off and does his own thing. It's a totally different parenting experience!!

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