July 19, 2008,
B.C. asks from Hot Springs National Park, AR on July 17, 2008
Help! My Son Is Afraid of Everything!
My son is about to be 7. He is terrified of everything...he won't go outside (not even on the deck) because he's afraid of dogs, wasps, ants, tarantulas(there aren't any)-whatever his imagination can think of. He has never been bitten, stung, etc. He won't try any sports because he says "they are too dangerous". He won't go in the bathroom by himself. Haircuts are a nightmare-he is terrified of them still! It seems like there is an issue with everything. I just want him to relax and enjoy his childhood, but he misses out on alot because of his fears. It almost seems like he over-thinks everything. He gets upset so easily. If he thinks he can't do something he won't even try for fear of failure. It's almost like he has anxiety or something. He has a stable, loving home life. He has always been a 'difficult' child. I love him so much but he can be so frustrating. I don't know what to do...Has anyone else had a similar problem? Is it just a phase?
Any tips on how to help him?
L.B. answers from Fayetteville on July 18, 2008
I'd go with counseling. Maybe his overthinking can be transformed into a positive thing! And really, counseling can get a lot of stuff out and help people work through issues so well.
J.D. answers from Jonesboro on July 17, 2008
My oldest child went through this years ago. I helped him get over it by purchasing a bottle of skintastic off(sounds weird, I know). The picture on the bottle had 2 children on it and I explained to my son that these children were also afraid of the same things that he was. I told him that when you spray the off on his body the things he was afraid of wouldn't be able to come near him. I also started going outside with him in 30 minute intervals and showing him that everything was fine. Every time we would go out I would go in 5 minutes earlier than he did. After a while he started going out on his on.
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S.W. answers from Tulsa on July 19, 2008
honestly, it sounds like something more might be going on. have you talked to his pediatrician?
A.J. answers from Tuscaloosa on July 18, 2008
Did your son have a bad experience or anything? I remember my daughter, who is now 8, used to love dogs and puppies. One day our neighbor's dog (friendly) came up to her and as he got closer, she was fell down and the dog got real close to her face and scared her something awful. SHe was about 3 then. She has been very afraid of dogs ever since. It is a chore to get her out of the car when we visit my mom. We have to mentally prepare her on how to get out of the car, how to walk, remind her the dog is just playing, how to calm down, how not to run. It's tiring. She does good some times, at other times, she just loses it and runs and yells and it's just awful. And I could understand if we were talking about some big dog, but it's a little cocker spaniel puppy! But anyway, our son who is 2 was a little leary of cats and dogs but I've found with him, the more you tell him about the puppy and allow them to be together, his fears are eased. I suggest just asking your how he feels and why, then let him know that it's OK and most of the bugs are scared of him, slowly expose him to different things, encourage him more and maybe playing the "big brother" card may help some too. Keep us posted.
S.J. answers from Tulsa on July 18, 2008
If he doesn't want to play sports because they are too dangerous, then perhaps he'd like to try some sort of indoor hobby...is he into art? Music? Crafts? Learing about science or animals? Yes it's a bit different for him to be so afraid to play outside, but some kids are outdoor kids and some kids are indoor kids. I see no harm in that. I sat at home and read science book after science book (kid's versions) as a little kid and loved going to kid-friendly, interactive museums. Does he like to ride a bike? You could assure him that when he's on the bike he's going too fast for anything like bugs or tarantulas to get him. (But maybe he'd think the bike is dangerous??) Some people are more cautious and fearful than others, kids included. If I were you, I would NOT try to get him over his fears by making him engage in those activities he's afraid to do. And hey, who ISN'T afraid of tarantulas?? :) Yikes! It's really a nice change, I think, if you look at it that way, as a lot of little boys are little daredevils and aren't afraid to try anything and get hurt a lot and end up worrying their poor moms to death.
D.D. answers from Birmingham on July 18, 2008
Do you know who might be feeding these fears to him? It could be a grandparent or babysitter or teacher. If you can pinpoint that, it would be best if they were the ones to lead him past these fears. I'd be surprised if he developed these thoughts on his own, especially the sports one. I didn't have this experience so it's hard to know though. My 2 were curious about everything to the point of me being concerned for them that they were being TOO curious! I'll pray that the solution will come quickly and something you are able to put in place easily. A grandmother of 3.
J.H. answers from Oklahoma City on July 18, 2008
Hi B., my older girl is like that, she's always had anxiety problems. She is now 9 and it hasnt really let up, she cant handle reading out loud or being the focus of a large group. She wants to go back into couseling, so we're trying to find her someone she can talk to about it. Talk to your child's pediatrician about it, they should be able to refer you to someone you can talk to. If left untreated, it could turn into lifelong and life-affecting phobias. Good luck, I know how frustrating it is :}
K.W. answers from Dothan on July 18, 2008
It's probably time to consider speaking to a therapist about this. It doesn't mean there's a deep psychological problem, but a therapist may be able to pinpoint the root of the problem and help your son overcome it.
T.S. answers from Little Rock on July 18, 2008
It is very normal for kids this age to have a significant, but irrational fear (for ex. the dark). It is not common to have true fears of "everything".
What happens if you "force" him to face his fears? His reaction could give you an indication of what you need to do. If you put him in the back yard, does he fuss a while and then adjust? Does he have a complete melt-down or go into an anxiety attack (trouble breathing, fainting, rapid heart)?
If he avoids he fears, fusses some, but doesn't go into a panic attack, I'd put him in situations for him to confront the fears, one at a time. If he shows real signs of major anxiety attacks, get him an appointment with a good child psychiatrist or psychologist.
Does he have certain "rituals" that he HAS to go through? Is he a neat freak or complete slob? How does he react if his hands get dirty? His multiple intense fears combined with these things definately warrant a referral.
Hope it helps.