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Children with phobias - any GP's about?

(19 Posts)
PfftTheMagicDragon Wed 29-Jul-09 22:19:29

If there are any GP's around or anyone else that might have an input I would appreciate some thoughts over whether it is "worth" taking a child to see someone about this?

DS (4) has what appears to be a developing button phobia. For the last 2 years he has not worn buttons, at first I assumed it was a control thing but it appears this is not the case. He completely freaks out if I suggest anything with buttons to him and it is now developing as he will not cuddle DD if she is wearing buttons. He gets very upset and and has to vet each piece of new clothing. He comments on them a lot. I have tried him with button tins and he is happy to touch them when they are not in their normal environment (on clothes).

My question is, as this is not a "life changing" fear, is there any point taking him to a GP? If you are a GP, what would you say? And if you have taken a child to the GP about a phobia, what do they say? I know I could just make an appointment and ask but thought I might save some time if the answer is going to be "it's avoidable, he might grow out it, go away" grin


Elibean Wed 29-Jul-09 22:50:38

Pfft, my dd1 (5.5) has a button phobia. She's had it since she was tiny (noticed her freaking out about buttony shirts at about 18 months) and its not gone away - it really worried me at first, but is now an ok part of every day life.

I did lots of research (its got a name!) and found several adult friends who had the same thing - they gave me loads of tips on how to cope, and what NOT to do. I've also met others with kids with the same phobia, its not that uncommon.

I did also find a very highbrown American psychiatriatists site, which explained the latest theory on phobias as being mostly genetic - though what the phobia fixes on, ie buttons, birds, spiders etc, can change from generation to generation. Basically, primal fears, hardwired into the brain, that come out in different ways.

We've always told dd 'oh, ok, thats how you feel about buttons, not everyone feels that way but we're all different - thats just how you feel, its ok'. She's far less freaked out by them now, but still wo'nt wear them on her upper body - but she will play with them, do up mine, wear them on jeans. I feel pretty relaxed about it now, and school are very understanding (quite rightly, IMO).

Do feel free to CAT me if you like - I'm away from Friday for 3 weeks, but am happy to pass on anything else that might help!

And no, never went to GP.

Elibean Wed 29-Jul-09 22:51:29


'highbrow' not 'brown'!

Elibean Wed 29-Jul-09 22:53:05

Afterthought: didn't think to go to GP as didn't see it as a medical condition, tbh...dh is a psychotherapist, and was very sensible about it all. I didn't want to make a big deal out of it, and to be totally truthful don't really think our GPs would be much good with phobias...possibly unfair wink

PfftTheMagicDragon Wed 29-Jul-09 22:55:03

Thanks elibean smile

I have always gone down the route of not making it a big deal, simply moved on and simply stopped buying buttoned clothes or adapting them. Trousers make like difficult but we manage grin

That's interesting about the genetic stuff. He is rather quirky generally, he fixates on things and is very sensitive, not sure if it all ties in together.

Maybe he will grow out of it?

I only ask as DH has been saying that we should make him a doctors appointment, and my initial reaction was that there would be nothing to be done.

Elibean Thu 30-Jul-09 08:44:13

From talking to adults with the same phobia, they didn't grow out of it - but learnt to cope with it and tolerate necessary buttons smile

They also told me they wish their Mums had handled it the way you are - ie not making a fuss or insisting, which just scared and upset them more.

I can't say dd is particularly quirky, really, though she's fairly sensitive...but IME 4 year olds do tend to fixate on things, so maybe that part will get clearer as he gets older!

Would tend to agree with you re GP...but you could always talk to yours next time you see him/her. I would do it without ds though, just to chat about him rather than take him, iyswim.

PfftTheMagicDragon Thu 30-Jul-09 11:06:50

Thanks eli, we are going for something else next week so might mention it then. I suspected that it was a case of simply dealing with it though.

Anyone else?

seeker Thu 30-Jul-09 11:17:44

My nephew had a button phobia - he grew out of it enough without any intervention to be able to wear proper shirts to secondary school, but still, at the age of 27 still prefers not to wear them.

Hope this helps.

My dd had a clown-phobia. Made life difficult for a while. She grew out of it at about 7.

PfftTheMagicDragon Thu 30-Jul-09 14:32:19

That's interesting seeker. Good to know that there might be light at the end of the tunnel, I have just adjusted several primary school shirts and my fingers have had enough grin

Did your DD all of a sudden grow out of her phobia (clown phobia the most understandable of all I think they are vile!)? One day were clowns just ok?

mears Thu 30-Jul-09 14:36:45

You mentioned later in the thread that he fixates on things and is sensitive. Perhaps it is not a button phobia itself but a deeper developmental issue? I would speak to the GP or health visitor.

seeker Thu 30-Jul-09 15:45:45

It was pretty sudden. We were going to a village fete and I saw a clown in the distance and I told her and we were just about to leave when she said "I don't think I mind them any more - can I go and see if I'm OK?" And she was. Trouble is that I don't know exactly when it went because I got so adept at my clown-avoidance techniques that she hadn't seen one for ages!

My db and sil were pretty robust about the button thing once nephew got to 9ish, by the way!

Elibean Thu 30-Jul-09 19:00:02

Yes, its a fine line to not make a fuss/understand/tolerate but also not add to a phobia - but its easy to see when dd is genuinely upset/scared and when she's dramatizing. So far, its mostly been genuine.

I think she'll toughen herself up a bit without any help from me due to peer pressure (wanting to wear the same as her friends) by secondary school age - but if its a major problem, I'll back her up. Apparently hypnosis can help with adults, but not heard of any RL experiences yet!

seeker Thu 30-Jul-09 23:00:33

We were like that about the clowns - "Nonsense, it's only a clown. It's somebody's daddy dressed up". Then she hyperventilated and fainted, so we decided to try avoiding clowns for a while. History does not relate what happened to the clown in question - a sad retirement somewhere reflecting on his shattered dreams, probably!

Feelingforty Thu 30-Jul-09 23:15:15

This has just caught my eye as DD2 doesn't like buttons. She is just 3 & I've just cut 2 buttons off a t-shirt which she was refusing to wear. I also have 2 Next t-shirts which a big button & she always says she doesn't like it, it's yukky.

I'm thinking very hard about wether to cut the button decorations off a cute dress that she refuses to wear or would I be better off trying to bribe her ?

Earlier today she was quite upset (for 2 mins) when I insisted she wear a button up cardigan (but it was cold & we were out, so all that was available).

PfftTheMagicDragon Fri 31-Jul-09 13:19:21

That's interesting mears. I have had these thoughts, though only fleeting. What I mean is that he gets quite attached to things, teddies, particular toys, and will be quite obsessive about them for a few days, they sleep with him, he takes them in the car. Then it wears off and he moves on, either to something else or to nothing for a while. He is also quite shy, this has been at its worst in the last year but I do feel that he is coming out of this now having been through a year of pre-school nursery.

Does the fixating thing relate to anything in particular and are there any other markers I should watch out for?

It's good to know that we will harden to the button avoidance over time, seeker grin

Forty, I had these thoughts when DS started I was very aware that it might not be genuine and I was caught between not wanting to "pander" to him if he was just being willful and not wanting to exacerbate any real issue he might have by insisting. I think the best way is not to make a fuss, do not make a big deal out of it and continue to offer buttons every do often, judging the reaction depending on the clothes. It soon became clear that he was being genuine, though it did start gradually, first just tops, he would wear jeans with metal buttons and then no to them, the last thing to go was a pair of pyjamas with buttons and now he won't even wear trousers with the waist adjusters inside.

coveredinsnot Sun 02-Aug-09 22:12:03

I would go to your GP as soon as you feel that any of the issues you describe, including the button phobia, start to significantly interfere with his life. GPs can refer on to child and adolescent mental health teams, so the help is there if you need it. They would probably refer you to a clinical psychologist (beware the psychiatrists, who would likely prescribe drugs for most things... I know I could get shot down for saying that, but I think it's true!).

I think the decision at this stage is whether you think you can cope with things as they are, getting help and advice from the internet, friends etc, or whether you want to take the route of official services. As it stands now, you may get refused treatment as the problem is not severe, and services are in high demand.

If I were you, I would be patient, watch and wait and if you're coping, continue, if you're not or he's not, ask for help, and the GP would be a good place to start.

WriggleJiggle Sun 02-Aug-09 23:21:39

Can I throw in here the question of other phobias? I am extremely worried about the dc (3.3, 1.9) developing spider phobias. No matter how hard I try, they will hold any minibeast with excitement, but let them see a spider and all hell breaks loose.

Interested to hear about the genetic thing. That would make a lot of sense in my situation.

coveredinsnot Mon 03-Aug-09 11:14:55

We all have a genetic predisposition towards being scared of spiders, bugs, snakes, heights etc, as these are the traits that would have enabled people (and the apes we evolved from) to survive and therefore breed... Completely natural, wouldn't worry about anyone developing spider phobia, just make sure you're calm around them and he might always be scared of spiders, but nothing wrong with that (especially if he moves to Australia!!)

PfftTheMagicDragon Mon 03-Aug-09 16:38:10

Thank you a lot for that, snotty, you have confirmed pretty much what I thought. I am happy to do that but didn't want to not take a route that I perhaps should have, IYSWIM?

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