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Fearful Toddler? Please comment

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

My 18 month old son has been acting fearfully in some situations and I am a little concerned.

We went to a sing along he had never been to before with 2 guys performing and they made some sort of loudish noise and he started crying and wanted to leave, then the other day we went to a carrousel for the first time and he was TERRIFIED- shaking terribly and saying NO-No- it was pretty upsetting- the carrousel was going quite fast I have to admit- I got dizzy myself though. Then yesterday we went to another sing along at the same cafe a cafe where he had been before and he abruptly started saying No-No let's go-let's go.
I am not sure if he was cared or bored but he seemed a bit nervous...Today we went by a fire station and he asked to see the fire truck- there was a firefighter talking to some kids and he put on a mask and my son got scared and said no-no so we left.

He used to be a very fearless infant and never went through a "stranger anxiety" face at all...
He also sometimes (not often though hits his head with his hand)- Maybe when he is tired....

It may be completely normal for this stage of development but I was wondering if anyone else's kids are or went through similar stages. ( I must confess I haven't read up much on development or toddler behavior lately- I am so exhausted I am barely making it through the day as he wakes up every couple of hrs every night!)

He has also been very clingy to me- nursing A LOT, hanging from my legs and gets VERY upset if I leave- In fact, I almost NEVER leave him-you can probably count the times I have been away in the last few months with just one hand! I should mention he's getting molars and has been non stop for 3 weeks???-

I suffer from anxiety and wonder if I am passing it to him-or he is genetically predisposed to it- don't know- I might be making too much of a big deal of it (I tend to do that) but I am beginning to feel like it is my fault he is going through this or I am messing him up?!....

I should also say- on the positive side that he is generally a happy kid, plays runs jumps and dances a lot. He is great with the people he knows-close family and friends.
He is very bright and extremely verbal-says probably over 100 words in 2 languages and everyone comments he is very (don't mean to boast-just trying to paint the whole picture) that he seems older. He is not always clingy either- when we go out he often fights me to hold his hand and wants to do his own thing and explore without caring where I am..He rarely cries- only if he gets hurt or is extremely overtired or I leave..

Any advice/comments for this mama?

Thanks much!!!
post #2 of 11
My second born son went through a stage very much like this. He was around 18 months and really unable to cope with any unfamiliar situations. He was scared of everyone outside of our household except, Gramma. Every child is different, in our case it passed after a few months. Whenever possible, I would let people know he needed his space. I also described what would be happening step by step, on our way places. That helped him alot. Hope he passes through this quickly.
post #3 of 11
My lo has been going through a lot of what you described lately. I think it started at about the same age. She does seem to be coming out of it though. Reading this link helped me to be more patent and understanding: http://www.zerotothree.org/child-dev...o-warm-up.html
It can be really frustrating though, especially when other kids in the same situation seem perfectly content. Hope that link helps.
post #4 of 11
My 16 month old often decides that something is too overwhelming to her, even if it is something she's done before and enjoyed immensely. She has a music class that she loves, but for some reason last week she didn't want to participate, and instead, we sat at the side and she nursed the whole time, with one eye on the action.

I try not to leave the environment, or abandon our plans entirely when she does this. We adapt it so that she can handle it and still participate, to a degree.

We go to a family centre a couple of times a week, and sometimes she's into it, and other times she just wants to cuddle with me on the couch. But we always stay for a while.

As important as I think it is to acknowledge our LO's emotional needs, I'm also trying really hard for my own social anxieties and shyness not to rub off on her, hence why we stick with it, even if we're feeling uncomfortable.
We'll often leave earlier than we would if she were having a great time, but I try never to leave amidst her expressing her unease, so as not to 'reward' it with leaving. Does that make sense?

I often wonder about my LO's sensitivity to environments and situations ... and try not to apply my adult neuroses and/or pathological language to it, although it is sorely tempting.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for the info, link, support and understanding.....
It is good to know other kiddos go through this and hopefully it will go away soonish. I guess what bothers me the most is the worry that I might be in part causing this but I guess I will have to do the best I can and accept who I am and who he is and will become- if that makes any sense?
Thanks again!
post #6 of 11
My DD is in a fearful stage as well...so far it's strange men, small appliances, stuffed animals that move and/or sing, loud engines, thunder and Mr. Noodle from Elmo's World

I do my best to remain calm and project calm vibes to her as I cuddle and comfort her with my touch and voice. I'm sure she'll grow out of all of the fears except of strange men and Mr. Noodle...those are perfectly rational.
post #7 of 11
Totally normal!

DS is afraid of the vacuum and has been since he was about a year (I hope this ends soon, it's getting better)

A cow horn that is at my in-laws house

Wigs or any kind of fake hair like on dolls or extensions etc

worms (although he says he likes worms and they are cute until he sees one on his boot and starts to shake and gets the terrified look on his face)

He is also terrified of The Doodle Bops and if the TV is on and they come on he is frozen in terror and just starts bawling and screaming. They are pretty freaky looking (this is his biggest fear)

Oh and DS is not what I would call a fearful child.

My Friends DD(3) was terrified of the wind and balls last year for a good 6-8 mons.
post #8 of 11
My son is a little older (just turned 3). He afraid of so many things. He's afraid of aquariums, spiders (me too), ladybugs, bees, and hair in the bathtub (he getting over this). Its so weird. He used to be afraid of "the map" on Dora. He is no longer afraid that, thank goodness, but he sometimes will wig out over something he sees on Thomas the Train or Max & Ruby. He will cover his ears and just run off into the sunset (basically out of the room) when he gets scared. I am just hoping he will outgrow this.
post #9 of 11
I guess what bothers me the most is the worry that I might be in part causing this but I guess I will have to do the best I can and accept who I am and who he is and will become- if that makes any sense?
Thanks again![/QUOTE]

You had also mentioned his molars are bothering him. From what I understand pain can really affect behavior in toddlers. Sounds like you are consciencious and attentive, I doubt it is you.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks Mamas for the support!!!
post #11 of 11
I think that it's great you're looking into this and trying to figure it out. You've already gotten lots of great feedback re: that a lot of toddlers go through a stage like this. Also as someone said teething can also complicate kids' behavior.

I just wanted to add though that you are also right to pay attention to how your own anxieties or discomforts can affect your child. Because they can definitely also have an effect.

What I thought was particularly great about your posts is that you are hanging in there to try to work through your own social anxieties in order to help your son through this stage, because that is so hard to do yet so important.

Both from my professional work and also my own parenting, I think about how often kids look to their parents for cues on how to respond to new or startling situations, and often parents don't even know their kids are looking to them for those cues. Not that a child's whole response is based on a paernt's response - no, kids definitely have their own personalities, fears, and feelings that are uniquely theirs, regardless of parental reaction. But our reactions can also have an impact.

Really I just wanted to say I hope it's a stage for your ds, sounds like that's exactly what it is, but to also encourage you to keep doing what you're doing and pay attention to your own fears and anxieities and keep trying to allow your son the space and chance to develop his own reactions by doing your own work to manage your anxieities. He's very lucky to have you as a mom!
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