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Child constantly terrified of nothing - please tell me someone has had the same experience!

VeryTiredDad · 21/05/2022 22:16

Hi all,

I've been searching for answers to this and have tried everything I can, but things seem to be getting worse and worse. I'm hoping someone has had similar experiences, as other than speaking to a doctor I am now officially out of ideas!

My 6 year old son has always been a little jumpy, which is fine in my eyes - it's never caused any issues and he's never really had any bad experiences with being frightened. However, somehow I am where I am right now.

I'm writing this after finally getting him to settle down and go to sleep (only because his trusty cat is now on the bed with him). This evening has really been the pinnacle of his (in my eyes) extreme behaviour.

It started off with him getting a little spooked out over something which he originally found funny - it was a dummy at a local attraction, which we had a good laugh with at the time. We opened a door and there was a dummy sat on an old-fashioned toilet showing how people used to go - it made both of us jump initially as we didn't expect anyone to be in there.

A few days on from this, and he's asking us to check if the cats are upstairs. If they aren't, we have to accompany him. This has actually happened in the past, but he very quickly grew out of it, so I humoured him this time round.

Suddenly, in the past week, things seem to have spiralled. Sometimes he'll be terrified (and I mean screeching if we don't immediately do what he's asking) even if we're in the same room as him. He'll want me to stand in the doorway if I'm in his room with him, and now the same in the toilet and shower. It's even gotten so bad that in our open plan downstairs, he will not sit and eat his tea at the table by himself even though I am literally feet away - I have to be sat next to him.

He's been up the night a few times with nightmares too, with twice a night being a relatively regular occurrence. This has also involved him going to the toilet in the night, and he even clambered over me while I sat on the toilet as I was no longer in the doorway with his hands clamped over his ears.

As you can probably tell, I'm at the end of tether with it all. I try to be understanding and talk him through it - but between a full-time job and trying to keep the house in line around it, I'm finding it impossible to get anything done as I'm constantly having to usher him around the house.

I've gone down the 'doing for attention' thought pattern, but he is genuinely deeply terrified. He's told me it's the dummy that scares him, but even though I reassure him we will never go there again if it's that much of an issue, it's just been getting worse. Nothing I can say or do reassures him.

This evening, he shouted me from upstairs telling me the usual line of 'He's scared'. I found him sat upright in bed, and as soon as I move from the doorway, he's cowering behind me as if hiding from something and keeps asking me to stand in the doorway again. I eventually coaxed him to lie back down in his bed after an extremely exhausting and repetitive half an hour. Luckily, he's exhausted or I think he could have gone on longer.

Does anyone else have any experience with this kind of behaviour? I'm genuinely at a loss as to what to do anymore.

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