Anxiety Issues with My 2 Year Old

Updated on March 03, 2010
A.S. asks from Indianapolis, IN
11 answers

I am in desperate need of advice! My daughter is almost 2 1/2. She is deathly afraid of so many things! For example, fuzz in the bathtub, the car wash, blow up toys (ie jump houses), people dressed up in costumes, anything with big eyes on it, and I could go on and on. I don't shelter her. I make sure she is out doing things all the time. She is around other people and other children her age. I have tried forcing her to do certain things to show her they won't hurt her, but that doesn't seem to help. I have tried talking it out with her, but she can't express why she is afraid. I'm not just talking a little whimpering either. I'm talking hold on for dear life, screaming. I would appreciate any advice you could give me! Thanks!

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answers from Cleveland on

Hi.i also have a 2 year old she will be 3 in june. She too is afraid of big things but i just allow her to feel that way but at the same time show her that its no big deal!! Show her that mommy is not afraid cause as we know they want to be like us!!!!!9 times out of 10 she will grow out of it, if not dont itself can be scarey so let her feel safe with you mom.

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answers from Cincinnati on

Encourage her to do what she can and let go/don't force what you can't.
My almost 7 year old didn't get into a "jumping" thing until just this year. He said "there is only a way in, but no way out" if it only had one door. He would start shaking and crying and if I forced an issue, screaming. He also didn't swing at all on a regular swing until after he was 5 years old. He still hardly ever swings right, he likes to fly like superman laying on his belly on the swing. Sitting up still scares him some. He cleans out the bathtub now before he gets in and he likes to scrub it before he gets out. He doesn't care, and never has cared, for baths for whatever reason. He has taken a shower since he was able to stand. And I understand the car wash issue. We just went through one the other day and I had to chat and distract him the whole way through--normally it's tears. Oddly enough he LOVES halloween, but he was somehow able to convince himself that it's okay to dress up and act like someone else, even a scary someone, on that ONE day. His friend came down two days after Halloween dressed up and my son freaked out just this past year!
The only thing that has REALLY helped us is maturity and the ability to communicate. We ended up going through 3 months of psychology appointments to help with our communication and teaching him how to express what emotion he was feeling. Each day he gets more courage and brave about things most people take for granted. Although he is still DEATHLY afraid of the dark. At night, every light in the house is on until he goes to bed, and he has 2 larger than normal night lights that he has on at night. We are learning though. Hang in there. It does get better. Encourage, make it fun, but don't force! :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Nashville on

I know that us as adults do not remember what life was like when we were two years old.

Try this, get on the floor ( at her level ) and try to look at everything from that view. Keep in mind that you know what things are and what they are used for and she doesn't.
Everything is brand new to her and the unkown can be very scary.
One more thing is ~ she is a girl, she is sweet, loving, kind, likes pink soft stuff, and on and on. Girls get scaried easier than boys do.

She is normal and girly. = )
Show her that you are there for her and that you will protect her.

God bless you, your princess, and your family.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

When my daughter was that age she was afraid of fuzz in the bath tub too. We would just take a little cup and fish it out of the tub. One day she told me that she wanted to be a fuzz for halloween because that was the scariest thing she could be. Since then she doesn't scream for dear life at the bathtub fuzz. Mine is now 3 and is over that particular fear. Now we are hearing noises at night. I talk her through it and tell her that our dog knows the difference between the normal noises and the spooky ones and that she will bark if there is something bad (of course I have to hope the dog doesn't bark for no reason, but she is pretty good about that). This morning we were sitting on the potty as we do routinely and she told me she hear a swooshing sound at night. It didn't dawn on me right away what that could have been. Then she heard her Dad flushing the toilet in our other bathroom and said, " That was the sound I heard Mommy!" So I told her that her Dad did get up to go potty once that night and she seemed ok with it. I think it just takes these guys time. And if she can "discover" the answer to one of her fears on her own, it will go away better than me trying to talk her through it. Good Luck!



answers from Indianapolis on

Many kids that I age that I know (teach preschool) are afraid of most of the things you mentioned.... bouncy houses (big, noisy, squishy/wierd to walk on makes you feel like you're falling), car wash (noisy and can't see out windows), costumed people (thousands of kids at Disneyworld freak out daily when they see a giant Mickey coming at them!), etc. My 7 year old wouldn't get near a bouncy house until he was almost 6, my 2 year old screams and runs away from them. My 4 year old is terrified of the car wash.

My 2 year old loves bubble baths with her 4 year old sister but she >hates< having bubbles cling to her hands. Go figure.

Keep exposing her to some things, but be nice about it. If you know she hates the carwash, simply don't visit one with her until she's older. Ditto with bouncy house places. If you see one at a party, she's exposed to it and watching other kids go in/out, but don't press her to do it. No need to force some things, these really aren't big issues and they'll more than likely go away with time.



answers from Boston on

Every child is different, it sounds like yours is a little more sensitive than others. The best thing may just be to expose her to these things a little bit at a time until she gets used to them, just make sure you're right there to comfort her. Some things she may just be afraid of for a long time. My daughter has been deathly scared of the vacuum cleaner and hair dryer since she was a baby. I used to only vacuum on the weekend when my husband could take her in the other room and hold her. I gave up on that (my carpet is always a mess) and just vacuum around her. She is still scared of it but not as much as she used to be, now she just hides in the other room and peeks out with a worried expression, but no crying or meltdowns anymore. She also used to be afraid of certain stuffed animals with scary eyes, now she is used to them. At 2 years old it is perfectly normal, and I'm sure it will pass on its own as she grows more confident.



answers from Cleveland on

i would talk it over with your doctor. this may be a temporary thing or it could be a sign of something else going on. I wouldn't force her to do something that she is deathly afraid of. I imagine being her size and everything being bigger than she is. You mention she can not express herself. Some kids with langauge disorders show their anxiety through their behavior.



answers from Cincinnati on

My daughter is 2 1/2 and is also terified fo anything inflatable (bounce house, pool float, ext) as well as other things. She has Sensory Intigration Disorder. She has many other things that are associated with this. If you are truly conserned talk to her dr about it and you can do some research and see if it seems like she may have other issues that point to sensory problems.


answers from Cleveland on

Oh momma, I feel for you. My daughter is now 7 and had the car wash and dressed up trouble too. Actually she still doesn't like dressed up people but the car wash trouble seems to have fixed itself. All I can tell you is to be patient. I DID have my daughters hearing checked out as I thought maybe her ears were extra sensitive and that could of been why she didn't like the car wash, vacuum cleaner, blow dryer and or loud noises. She still seems to have a period of adjustment even still, like when we go to the movies, sometimes that sound there is LOUD!!!
I'd say just be patient......and hopefully as she matures and is more able to communicate she will be able to better explain her feelings to you!
HUGS to you and your little one :)



answers from Los Angeles on

Are you sure you’re not talking about my son as you just described him exactly! LOL
My son from early on was afraid of everything like what you described and I took him everywhere with me since he was 3 months old. He was exposed to so much even before he turned 3 (we’re a very outdoors type of family). He wouldn’t go on any jump houses, pony rides, motor operated rides (ex: coin operated rides at malls), rides at amusement parks, kids train, slides at the park or swings etc. even when all his cousins./friends were having fun. He just preferred to watch sitting on my lap. We were at a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese for the first time when he was about 2 and OMG he freaked out when that big rat came out although I didn’t blame him, he is kinda scary! We took him to Disneyland for his 3rd birthday but he wouldn’t go on any rides. We had several friends tell us to take him and that they were SURE he would go on a ride there! No way! He did however love so many other things about Disneyland that we did end up staying there a full day so it was worth it. One thing I can tell you is that I never forced him to do anything he didn’t feel comfortable doing. Yes it was a bummer that he wouldn’t go on any rides at DL but I felt that if I forced him, next time he wouldn’t go on them either. We just let him watch and observe wherever we would go. Now that he’s 4 he’s outgrown most his fears. He even went on a little kids roller coaster ride at Disneyland when we were there this past Christmas. He will even get on a boogey board and ride the waves at the beach with Dad! It’s amazing how much he does now that he’s ready! I think he just needed to feel comfortable and secure and IN CONTROL =-) Basically my advice is LOTS of patience and exposure, watching and observing. It truly helped my son. Best of luck!



answers from Indianapolis on

Our 3.5 year old was about that age when he started articulating fears of certain things. He's deathly afraid of the dark, and we have no idea. No matter what we do, he can't get past it

I think you're doing the right things by encouraging her to be exposed to things she's anxious around. I hated the Chuck-e-Cheese's characters (basically anyone dressed-up in character costumes) when I was younger. I work with a 40 year old man who is literally deathly afraid of clowns.

They may be legitimate (though irrational) fears - I'm not an expert on dealing with fear-derived anxiety disorders, but it may be worth a call to her pediatrician to see what they advise. We mentioned to ours (when our son was around 18 months) that he's exhibiting some OCD tendancies, and he wants us to keep an eye on it should they progress in the wrong direction.

Here's what the American Academy of Pediatrics has to say about anxiety/fear disorders:

Next question: Scare of Rides.