Help! My Son Is Afraid of Everything!

Updated on July 19, 2008
B.C. asks from Hot Springs National Park, AR
14 answers

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?

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answers from Fayetteville on

Hi, B.,

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.

Good luck!


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answers from Jonesboro on

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.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

honestly, it sounds like something more might be going on. have you talked to his pediatrician?



answers from Oklahoma City on

Do you have other family members with anxiety? Perhaps that is what is going on with your son. Try baby steps to take him outside and to play sports with him. Perhaps he is afraid of dying? Show him sports on TV and all of the people in the stadium who are fine and alive and well. If those steps don't work, then consult with your pediatrician for a child mental health professional who can work with him to help reduce his anxiety.



answers from Decatur on

I am a mental health counselor. It sounds like your son has anxiety. Have you considered taking him to a pediatric counselor to help him work through his anxiety? I have heard many success stories from our pediatric counselors on this topic with kids. Hope this helps!!



answers from Alexandria on

Hi B.,
Don't worry about sports, he may find an interest in it later. I have 5 boys, they range from 12 down 5 and not one of them has made any great efforts to join a sports group. Give him some time and he might find one he would like to try and I am sure as he advances into physical ed classes that make them participate in similar if not the actually sport, he might find one he likes. It took awhile but my 10 year old just asked me if he could play football when he gets into junior high. As for the bugs, I don't blame him, I don't like them either. Curious, do you freak when you see a bug even if it startles you? I used to and my boys would get the same way if they saw one. Now I brave up to the worst of things and they are my little heros and smash them. I don't blame him for being afraid of bees and just reinforce what can potentially hurt him but only if he bothers it and let him know what is harmless. You didn't mention if you were military but I know with mine, sometimes it is just about attention even if we feel we are smothering them with all the love in the world. It just isn't the same without Daddy around. And you have a younger one who does need more of your time so I am sure it might just be competition to see who gets more of mom. I know that is what it has come down to in my house. I hope I have helped a little and I am sure if anything, he is just going through the growing phase of little boy to big boy and he just isn't ready to face that. Take care.



answers from Tulsa on

Hi B.,
You probably need to seek some help for him. It sounds like an anxiety problem that, if left untreated, can become worse. You can also google books on helping your child cope with anxiety which gives you great ways to help them. Anxiety is an unreal fear about something and the treatment is usually helping these kids learn to know their warning signs and learn to think about what is a real fear vs an unreal fear. Good Luck!



answers from Little Rock on

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.



answers from Oklahoma City on

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 :}



answers from Birmingham on

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.



answers from Tulsa on

If he doesn't want to play sports because they are too dangerous, then perhaps he'd like to try some sort of indoor 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.



answers from Tuscaloosa on

Hi B.,
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.



answers from Dothan on

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.



answers from Birmingham on

My son was also very timid. Never wanted to try anything new or leave my side. We recently moved and he became friends with an adventerous, and very cute, girl who has changed his life. He sees her enjoying all of these activities and before he can even think about it he has followed her and realizes there is nothing to be afraid of. I had tried to model a more adventerous attitude but it wasn't until a peer came along that he actually broke free. Be encouraged and just keep showing him that you aren't afraid.

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