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phobias in young teen

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Cross posted in mental health

 

My 12 yr old has phobias.  

 

Here is a list:

 

fish

butterflies/moths

caves

 

The last 2 are not life altering, but the fish one is a bit.  She will not swim in lakes, rivers, oceans...she will not go on boats - she may come into contact with fish.

 

It is sad - we are an outdoor, swimmy family.  DD is an excellent swimmer (and does swim in pools regularly) but will not swim in natural water.  We are going to the Carribean in 3 weeks and she intends to sit by the pool the whole time.  I am a little sad for her....

 

In the last week she has slept in my room twice, and last night she said she was not going to go upstairs until an adult also went upstairs to bed. This is not OK (and might not be a phobia -yet - but it seems like it is going that way).  She needs to go to bed by 9:00 as she gets up around 6:30 for school - lack of sleep makes her very cranky.  I do not want to go to bed at 9:30!!!!  DH often does go to bed at that time, but he should not have to.

 

She is unwilling to work on her phobias.  She does admit them.  She figures there is no point and she is entitled to her fears.  DH agrees with her and wants me to lay off.

 

I am conflicted.  I want her to be able to enjoy things - and the sleep thing is not OK.

 

Help!

 

Also - I am very willing to go to therapy over this, but she is unwilling to seek help for her phobias.  Should I pull the mommy card and insist or is that demeaning to what she wants?

 

Kathy

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by purslaine - 3/23/11 at 1:57pm
post #2 of 15
Quote:
She is unwilling to work on her phobias.  She does admit them.  She figures there is no point and she is entitled to her fears.  DH agrees with her and wants me to lay off.

 There's no point? Wow, she really absorbed this phobic label, and has given up already.  Her actions are impacting you.  She's part of a family and requiring her to put some thought into finding a solution isn't the same as demeaning her wants.  My impression is that you're hoping to solve your dilemma (her fears are interfering with your life) by getting her into therapy to treat what you have diagnosed as a phobia.  I come to that conclusion because I've certainly done that myself with my own daughter. 

 

Maybe I'm wrong to project this on you, Kathy, but I know that it seems to me like it would be a lot easier to just get the daughter into therapy to fix her issue, rather than go the harder route of working with her myself.  For one thing 'working with her' sometimes feels a lot like confrontation.  There's all that emotional push-back.

 

Your needs are completely legitimate. This isn't fair to you. I think if you take the focus off of some sort of pathology (phobias) and instead focus on finding a solution to a family issue, you might have more success. 

 

She's twelve years old already, she's old enough to learn that she has a responsibility to Mom and everyone else she lives with.  She's only twelve years old, she really doesn't have the skills to look deep within herself and corral her fears with sheer will power. Most adults can't do that, either.

 

So maybe therapy with a professional is in order.  But it's 'family' therapy, for both of you.  It's not you forcing her into therapy all by herself.  Tell her how her refusal to deal with it is impacting you, and tell her straight up that you deserve her consideration.  

 

 

 

post #3 of 15

The only one I would worry about is the bedtime/sleep thing.

 

Who cares if she doesn't swim in natural water.

 

And yes, she is entitled to her fears. And if she is not ready to try and conquer them, it's her prerogative. She may wake up one day and decide she wants to start working towards at least being able to deal with them, if not get rid of them completely.

 

I can tell you right now, it sucks when someone else insists on making you feel bad about something you have little to no control over. 

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post

The only one I would worry about is the bedtime/sleep thing.

 

Who cares if she doesn't swim in natural water.

 

I do.  She used to love to swim and camp and doesn't now.  I am sad for her.  I also do have difficulty planning trips with her. We had toyed around with going on a house boat vacation - can't now.  She will not take ferries, etc.  I am left with 2 choices - change what we do on family vacations/outings for one persons needs or do them and know she will not be included.  It is hardly fun. 

 

I can tell you right now, it sucks when someone else insists on making you feel bad about something you have little to no control over. 

I am not sure asking her to think about working on her fears is the same as "making her feel bad".  her fears cannot be fun for her.

 

My view of parenthood does include supporting and challenging children to be emotionally/mentally/spiritually healthy...it does not include just sitting around and doing nothing while a 12 year old has phobias that impact her.  (for lack of a better word - but I do hear Journeymoms point - and I may be jumping the gun with the labeling a bit).

 

The sleeping thing is an issue.  It might not turn into a phobia/fear...but goodness knows what will happen if it does.

 

I do not mind parenting a 12 yr old to sleep for a short time while she works on things- if my child needs me, she needs me.  I do expect her to be willing to try and change though if her behaviours are impacting others.

 

post #5 of 15

You don't have to feel bad for her because she no longer wants to swim in naturally occurring water. Aside from the houseboat idea, which you may have to put of for a few years, a vacation is not ruined because someone doesn't like to be on or in naturally occurring water. Unless you are spending every waking moment swimming, it shouldn't be a huge change to the vacations.

 

I mean really, think about it. You go to the Caribbean, she spends the time sitting by the pool (since it's a pool and not the ocean, I am guessing she probably would be swimming on the vacation). You go out to dinner as a family, you go see the sights as a family, though maybe she can't tag along on a boat trip if you guys want to take one, but you do some shopping and get immersed in the culture as a family. I know that the few years I spent avoiding natural water didn't mean we had to change anything in the vacations my family too. We still went camping, and hung out at the lake or river or ocean depending on where we went. We all still had a whole lot of fun though, and no one felt like it was some how less of a vacation just because I didn't participate in swimming.

post #6 of 15
I was stung by a jelly fish and didn't swim in natural water for about a decade. I'd let that one go. Don't pester her about it -- no body should be forced to do something the don't want to because other people think it is fun. Don't feel sorry for her, she's not missing out on anything she would enjoy.

The going to bed thing, though, impacts you and could be a sign of a larger problem. I'd start though, with your dh. At what point would he consider this a problem? Is he in denial?

I think that getting mental health care for our kids is a bit like taking them to the dentist. We do it because it's right for them, not because they want to go. I'm not saying your dd needs to go right now, but if she continues getting more fears and is having problems with anxiety, then it might make a lot of sense.

I think it really comes down to whether or not she is happy with her life and able to function with the thing she wants and needs to do. We don't all enjoy the same things in life, and that's ok, but sleeping problems and being afraid in your own home indicate not being comfortable in your own skin or your own life.
post #7 of 15

My 17yo isn't too happy going upstairs on her own, especially at night. I go up with her when she showers - it gives us a good chance to chat. And I let her fall asleep on the sofa, then get her up to stumble to her room when I go to bed. It's not a big deal.

 

The swimming? LOL I would barely go into a pool after Jaws came out (and I've never even seen the movie!). We went on vacation to a lake every year. If I didn't want to swim? That was okay - I sat on the dock and read. Really, that isn't a big deal. If she's not unhappy about it? Don't fret over it.

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

I will try and let the swimming go.  It is sad for me because she really used to enjoy swimming in any water.  This is a little OT, but I might be mourning some changes in her. It was something we enjoyed together and she no longer does.   There are other things she no longer enjoys doing.  There are things she refuses to do due to ethical standards.  I am having a hard time connecting with her - she enjoys clothes and makeup as far as I can tell - and that is about it.   

 

Last night she refused to go to bed until I went to bed.  She said she was not tired - and the moment I said I was going up to bed, she said she was, too.  It is all fine right now - last week was March Break, so she is well slept - but as school wears on I know she will become increasingly exhausted.  She is miserable when she is exhausted.  

 

I suggested a flashlight or nightlight - nope, she wants an adult upstairs.

 

I would still be concerned about fears if she could sleep downstairs (and I would wake her when I went up) but I would not be worried about sleep deprivation.  Unfortuantley, I do not think sleeping downstairs will work- too much is going on and the only comfy place is the couch...which is in front of the TV (which is always in use in the evenings)

 

 

 

 

post #9 of 15

This is just a thought, but you mentioned that things are changing and you're wondering how to connect w/your dd.  It sounds like she's giving you a place, even if it is something you consider a phobia, or inconvenient--going upstairs with her when she goes to bed seems to be where she's wanting connection.

 

I understand.  I know my dd needs something, or something is going on in her life, when she asks me to snuggle with her at bedtime, and really seems to need it.  My observation is that this is a time when there might be some quiet conversation, or none at all, as increasingly she's a little more inward. It's like being her touchstone, literally.

 

Anyway-just a thought. 

post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

I would still be concerned about fears if she could sleep downstairs (and I would wake her when I went up) but I would not be worried about sleep deprivation.  Unfortuantley, I do not think sleeping downstairs will work- too much is going on and the only comfy place is the couch...which is in front of the TV (which is always in use in the evenings)


So is ours - she falls asleep when she's tired. If it's not before I go to bed? So be it.

 

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtiger View Post




So is ours - she falls asleep when she's tired. If it's not before I go to bed? So be it.

 


My DD is absolutely miserable if she is sleep deprived - crying, sensitive, etc.

 

I really have no issues with a teen staying up as late or even later than I, if they do not need the sleep.

 

I do not think DD would fall asleep on the couch when tired - she hasn't in the past.  

 


Edited by purslaine - 3/24/11 at 5:44am
post #12 of 15

OP, I have a different point of view. If your daughter is even a little bit open to therapy (CBT is pretty great at extinguishing phobias), I would urge you to do so. It's not like she simply has a preference for pools because they feel cleaner, or whatever, it's because she's irrationally frightened of fish. That's different. I myself started exhibiting phobias and other OCD behaviour when I was about 10. I wish my parents had gotten me some help then, because the longer you have the phobias, the harder they are to get rid of. Those neural pathways just get deeper and deeper. Eventually, she will feel the constriction on her life. She won't be 12 forever. She's going to grow up & want to explore the world & do things with friends, go to school, start a family, work, etc, and if her phobias have really taken hold it will be a problem. And then she will have to either deal with a constricted life or try and conquer those fears at a later point in her, at a point where it will be more difficult because of the obligations she will have to school, employer, family (her own, eventually) etc. I STILL have some of the phobias from when I was a kid (30 years later), although I have worked partially worked through some, and they are at best, a PITA and at worst, a heartbreaking, frustrating, alienating way to live. From a BTDT perspective, help your kid now when it's still relatively easy. She might fight you on it, and I'm not sure what to do if she's not on board, but it's really worth a try. 

post #13 of 15

I'm not opposed to therapy for kids but before you decide I'd think about how much of an impact her phobias are having on her daily life.  If they are really causing serious problems for her and the family its time to seek help.  If not I'd suggest some books for kids on coping with fears/anxiety and if she's open to it some guided meditation/hypnosis.  There is a whole series of books tha may be helpful to her.  A couple that come to mind are "What to Do When You Dread Your Bed: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Problems With Sleep",   What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety   "What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety"  There is a cd for kids called "Changing Channels: Positive living skills for children" that teaches kids how to relax, contorl stress, embrace good things in themselves and others and find more joy in each day. 

 

I also agree with what Karne said. 

post #14 of 15


12 is a tough year. It was the most difficult year so far for DD#1, who is now 14.

 

DD#2, who is now 12, is easier than DD#1, but she was always REALLY easy before, and if I didn't have DD#1 to compare her to, I would be seriously, seriously freaking out about her mood swings.

 

I think it is difficult to tell with a child this age when they need professional help and when they are just going through a phase.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie Mac View Post

OP, I have a different point of view. If your daughter is even a little bit open to therapy (CBT is pretty great at extinguishing phobias), I would urge you to do so.....From a BTDT perspective, help your kid now when it's still relatively easy. She might fight you on it, and I'm not sure what to do if she's not on board, but it's really worth a try. 

I did end up putting DD#1 in therapy (CBT!) and it was the best decision for her. She had extreme anxiety that greatly interfered with her life, and symptoms of depression. It was the right thing to do. She didn't want to go at first, but I got recommendations about who would be good to take her to, and she ended up really liking her therapist after she got to know her a bit. It was VERY helpful for her, taught her some skills she'll have her whole life, and gave her a new way to work on problems in the future (she'd go back to therapy if she felt she needed it)
 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by dairy2dogs View Post

 There is a whole series of books tha may be helpful to her.  A couple that come to mind are "What to Do When You Dread Your Bed: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Problems With Sleep",   What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety   "What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety"  There is a cd for kids called "Changing Channels: Positive living skills for children" that teaches kids how to relax, contorl stress, embrace good things in themselves and others and find more joy in each day.  


These are really good suggestions. With my own DD, I tried everything else that I could think of first (including putting mellow meditation/falling asleep CDs on for her at night) before taking her to a counselor.

 

"This is a little OT, but I might be mourning some changes in her. It was something we enjoyed together and she no longer does.   There are other things she no longer enjoys doing.  There are things she refuses to do due to ethical standards.  I am having a hard time connecting with her - she enjoys clothes and makeup as far as I can tell - and that is about it.   "

 

Meet her where she is. Plan a day out for just the two of you to go shopping. Do things she likes, and take her out to lunch some place fun. Talk to her about the things she is interested in now.  Some of the things I do to stay connected to my DDs are:

 

go to movies with them that they want to see (even really stupid ones with questionable content)

read books they've already read so we have something in common to talk about

share an iTunes account and make play list for each other.

read a chapter of a book outloud together at bedtime

support their hobbies and interests (my 12 and year old and I currently taking a cake decorating class together, in your case, it might mean looking through magazines together)

 

post #15 of 15

I would let everything but the sleep issue go. I told my kids that their bedtime is 9:30pm and I am not going to sleep at the same time. I used too but sometimes I like to stay up late.They complained,but eventually went to bed on time without me.

 

I am with your dd on not swimming anywhere but a pool. I don't have fears,but I prefer a pool over a lake or ocean. I do love the smell of the ocean and collecting shells!

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