Advanced search

What's for lunch today? Take inspiration from Mumsnetters' tried-and-tested recipes in our Top Bananas! cookbook - now under £10

Find out more

Scared DD (5). Don't know how to help her.

(24 Posts)
Asleeponasunbeam Fri 12-Dec-14 20:51:01

I'm really bad at parenting when DD shows signs of being like me. I have talked to a counsellor about this, but not seeing her at the moment.

Anyway, the current problem...
DD (5, year 1)is very easily scared by stories, tv programmes, films. She was the only toddler who would run screaming from the library if they tried to read the Gruffalo in story time, she watches Octonauts as though it's Dr Who (from behind the sofa or with little brother as a shield). Lots of stories and books are out because there's a 'scary bit' in them. In a misjudged moment I took her to see Frozen at the cinema - we were out within five minutes!

They watch films a lot at her school - she always asks if she can do colouring or something else, and they let her.

Yesterday, she was off sick from school. I thought a film would be nice but made two poor decisions. We tried Brave first (wow, scary!) and then an innocuous looking 'Santa Paws'. Crazy screaming after twenty minutes or so as a poor orphan child is locked in a basement.

Last night - an hour of screaming and crying about being scared. I reassured as best I could - made up happy endings for both films, gave her the 'Dream bottle' she once made, and she went to sleep eventually.

We didn't have time to talk about it today, and then...they put on Polar Express at school. She only saw a tiny bit of it, but has been hysterical since she went to bed again.

I've moved her into our room, so as not to disturb DS too much, all the lights are on, she's asleep.

Aside from no more films, or much better vetting on my part, what should I do to help her? I feel like I turn into my mother - don't be silly, you're fine, etc, which is not helpful or right, or what I want to be like. On the other hand, I don't want to go to bed with her at 7pm!

sunnybobs Fri 12-Dec-14 20:55:37

My 4 year old is currently just like this - I had the exact same Santa Paws experience yesterday. Leaping to the DVD player to switch it off before the incinerator scene. He's even started to get terrified at things that used to be safe like cbeebies (Peter rabbit is now too scary) and is analysing all books we read asking "is he a baddy" all the time. I'm the absolute worst at watching things that scare me so feel a bit like you about how to deal with it though I do sympathise with him massively. Really not sure how to best help him through it all.

livelablove Fri 12-Dec-14 20:57:26

My dd used to be a bit like this at 5. She couldn't watch any films and only liked cbeebies channel. She is over it now at 10. She loves Dr Who. I would just cut out all films. It is not that great for kids to watch TV too much anyway. Put on some nice music and do some colouring, now that is soothing.

Asleeponasunbeam Fri 12-Dec-14 20:59:39

We do love colouring!

Thanks for making me feel like she (and I) are not too unusual.

livelablove Fri 12-Dec-14 21:01:18

If cbeebies is no good get a few videos of favourite shows that are not scary and just watch those if you do need a bit of T.V time. I really think they will grow out of it.

sunnybobs Fri 12-Dec-14 21:01:20

I'm now regretting the fact I've bought our first panto tickets for this year!! It's going to be a disaster grin

sunnybobs Fri 12-Dec-14 21:03:41

And some books are just as fraught - paper dolls for hidden under the sofa for the scene where the dolls are cut into pieces & a totally safe shirley Hughes book became dangerous when it had a scene with a cat scratching a little girl. It's all quite exhausting to monitor & predict. Very cheered by thinking it an age/developmental stage though

Asleeponasunbeam Fri 12-Dec-14 21:04:47

She has fallen in love with Tinkerbell, and DS loves Thomas, so they're our default TV options.

Pantos definitely out for us! Left the local amateur one after 15 minutes last year - could not cope with the booing. She's very noise sensitive too and covers her ears a lot.

Forgot about her reaction to King Herod! Poor sensitive child!

Smugnogplease Fri 12-Dec-14 21:06:59

Should I be worried as my dd(4.8) is scared of nothing!?! Literally any film is fine, ET and home alone are her favs! london dungeons she walked round and wouldn't hold my hand for most of it!! She has been a fearless explorer since she walked. I'm worried that she is missing a sensitivity gene!

Middleagedmotheroftwo Fri 12-Dec-14 21:09:11

I remember my DSis being like that. DDad used to joke about the number of Disney films he'd only seen half way through in the cinema. I can remember her being absolutely terrifird by the child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in particular.

DSis grew out of it eventually. I'm sure your DD will too.

EyeoftheStorm Fri 12-Dec-14 21:10:39

DD1 was like this - still is to a lesser degree at 8.

She didn't like anyone to be in danger or treated unkindly. I would give her a summary of a story before we read it. This happened, then something bad happened, then something made it all better and there was a happy ending.

After the story, we'd talk about the good things in the story. It was a bit labour intensive but we've slowly built it up so she can tolerate some bad things happening.

Films are longer so a bit harder. I do think it's ok to feel like this though. I try not to be dismissive (even though i sometimes want to roll my eyes).

ByeByeButterfly Fri 12-Dec-14 21:10:43

I was a bit like this up until aged 8ish.

Thing is I didn't always tell my parents I was scared so I'd scream all night or be terrified on my own and they'd get cross because they didn't know what the problem was.

My sister put carebears on? Scary.

Beetlejuice? Scary.

I just found some really random things frightening especially surreal stuff that made no sense. I suppose it makes sense as I couldn't understand it or make sense of it so it frightened me.

I think the only thing you can do at this age is what you are already doing. Doing different activities such as colouring, practising writing skills (if want to do something educational) and other arts and craft things.

I think once she gets to about 6 or 7 if she is still like this start to explain to her why she might find it scary and why it isn't scary as this is what helped me. So for example I was scared of holes in things but my Mum had to explain that I was scared because I felt I'd fall through them but that if a hole was very small it wouldn't just get big and let me fall through but sometimes they would show that on TV because it looked scary, but it didn't really happen etc.

By about 11 I was watching horror movies and trying to freak myself out and now I'm in the middle I don't mind a horror but wouldn't deliberately set myself out to make myself uncomfortable. I can assure you though that your daughter is perfectly normal.

Or she's odd like the rest of us on this thread.

But more likely the former. smile

Asleeponasunbeam Fri 12-Dec-14 21:13:10

sunny, we had that Shirley Hughes too! Anything with wolves is out, Hairy McClary (that nasty cat!), so many scary stories. But she LOVES books when there's no peril at all.

I remember my mum always saying 'just close your eyes and think of something nice' and can hear myself starting to say it to DD. It's not helpful and not how I want to be. I stopped telling my mum what I was scared of. Including a lot of things she really needed to know.

threepiecesuite Fri 12-Dec-14 21:17:53

My niece was like this. Terrified of aeroplanes dropping out of the sky, or an ant, or pretend dinosaurs roaring too loud, or an unpredictable game of Buckaroo. She did grow out of it at around 8 but it was very tiring trying to predict potential doom all of the time.

My own DD is the opposite but that comes with its own problems too. We had an hour of crying because she was too small to go on the Big One rollercoaster in Blackpool at age 4. Or when I try to make things a bit scary and exciting in books, she gives me a withering look, and utters 'they're just pretend' in a bored sounding voice!

EyeoftheStorm Fri 12-Dec-14 21:18:58

In your OP you said your daughter was like you. DD1 likes to hear about the things i was scared of when I was her age - going upstairs, having my hands outside the duvet cover. i could go on.

Then we talk about what I did to stop being scared (like having all the lights on in every room) and what would make her feel safe. i also reassure her that lots of people are scared of things and that you change and grow out of those feelings.

Asleeponasunbeam Fri 12-Dec-14 21:20:32

Thanks, eye, I've never really told her what I was scared of. I think I'm trying to hide it. Because I don't want her to be like me! But she is, in many ways.

That might help her.

sunnybobs Fri 12-Dec-14 21:23:56

Yes Hairy Maclary was a favourite but now is relegated due to the scary cat face scene! I also have a fearless 2.5 year old who is the other extreme and it's trying to balance the two of them that wears me out more I think. I absolutely sympathise as I still will not watch horror films or torture scenes in TV dramas etc etc so I do understand totally. It just upsets me when he makes himself so miserable from it & gets so worked up worrying about things beforehand - again another trait I recognise from myself. So much harder to parent your own anxieties in your child.

Asleeponasunbeam Fri 12-Dec-14 21:27:07

My little boy is completely fearless too. They are such opposites.

But she's been keen to see Santa this year, had her face painted at the school Fayre, been to birthday parties without me, put her nose under the water in swimming lessons, so lots of great progress.

I'll just have to stop using tv as an easy option!

Iggly Fri 12-Dec-14 21:27:15

I would talk a bit about fears and try and explain what is happening, not brush over them by saying "close your eyes and think of something nice".

So when ds says he's scared of the dark, we talk about it, what he is scared of etc (I just listen to him), I explain that it is scary not knowing what is there but it is all the same just with the lights off. I also say I was scared as a child. He has a night light he can turn on when he needs.

Other stuff - we talk about what is happening and try and answer his questions (e.g. when in frozen, the parents die in the storm) which helps allay his fears and anxiety.

Fear is usually of the unknown and not knowing how to handle things so I try and equip ds. Also it is rationale to be scared of some stuff so I don't brush it aside.

He is a bit wary of things and new situations as I was as a kid but he's getting better.

I've also been told to stop saying " careful" - better to say something specific e.g. look out for x/y/z. Otherwise careful implies danger everywhere!

Lucyccfc Fri 12-Dec-14 21:32:32

My DS was just the same at that age. Had to leave the cinema quite often, had to be very careful about what we watched on tv. The pantomime was the worst. He stopped the whole production of Cinderella when the ugly sisters came on stage. He screamed the place down and I made a sharp exit.

He is better now he is 9, but still has quite a vivid imagination.

My Nephew who is 7 is the complete opposite. Not scared of anything, but has no sense of his actions or the consequences.

wheresthelight Fri 12-Dec-14 21:39:23

My dss is 11 and scared of all sorts, his sister (dsd) is fearless at 9 as and dd definitely takes after her big sister!!

you are doing the right thing by trying to manage it and keep her exposure to a minimum. keep doing what you are doing and hopefully she will grow out of the worst of it.

have you thought of getting her a worry doll that she can talk to when scared maybe?

ConcreteElephant Fri 12-Dec-14 21:46:08

DD can be very similar, but she's perhaps not quite as sensitive as your DD sounds. Still Brave, Aladdin, yes to Peter Rabbit too (Mr Tod and Tommy Brock), Finding Nemo etc have all had her pleading with me to turn them off.

I've spent a lot of time talking to her about the structure of books and films (she's an articulate little thing so it's not quite as poncey as it sounds!) - so, a good story will often have bits that make us feel happy, make us laugh and giggle, bits that are sad, bits that might even make us cry, bits that surprise us, and also bits that might be frightening or where we are worried because we don't know what's going to happen. But this is all part of the adventure. It's meant to be surprising, and exciting, and a bit scary. We are safe, and things always turn out ok in the end.

We joke about how boring Finding Nemo would be (she was terrified of the diver taking Nemo) if Nemo wasn't taken and just carried on with his day. Or if the Octonauts just stayed in the Octopod all day - ok, they wouldn't get chased by anacondas or sharks but they'd never be able to help any animals either, or show us how brave they can be.

Panto we tried but she was very sensitive to the noise so we aren't bothering this year. Some things can just be left till they are ready, they aren't essential. When fears start to affect their day to day life though, I feel like we do need to tackle them, sensitively of course.

It's hard, I don't want to indulge the fear too much but I also need to help her through it so it doesn't remain a 'thing'. I would say acknowledge the fear but also rationalise it, demystify the cause. You're right that just saying, 'don't be silly' etc. isn't the way to do it. For DD, appealing to her logic, her desire to know how things work, we are getting somewhere. I feel like I'm sucking the magic out a bit sometimes but I also want her to be able to enjoy these films and books, and experience the thrill while knowing she's safe.

Sorry, long and waffly!

ConcreteElephant Fri 12-Dec-14 21:46:28

DD almost 5 btw.

ProveMeWrong Fri 12-Dec-14 21:56:07

Whatever you do, don't read Topsy and Tim go camping!

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: