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My son's fear of people

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

My son is 14 months old now and at this point, I'm ready to work again but he has a fear of people.  Although I'm very nervous about nurseries, I need to find a safe one to enroll him into.  I don't know how this will work because he is completely afraid of me leaving him and even worse, of new people.  He will not just go to anyone.  He does seem to really love being around other kids his age but I'm not certain how he will react to me leaving him with strangers for the entire day.  I've left him with my sister a few times, for a few hours but she's the only person he will stay with for long periods.  Does anyone else have this problem and can you please help me solve it.

post #2 of 10

How much time have you spent out at new places with him and just let him take it all in?  I'm not much of an outgoing person, so if not for my FIL watching DD all day, I doubt she'd be anywhere near as outgoing as she is.  She does have her moments where she's been reserved and it's worse when she'ss with DH bc he doesn't watch her body language as much and brushes off her fears too quickly and passes her off to people when she's not quite ready.  I've noticed some men scare her, so if we are out somewhere and she shies away, I will either talk to the person while she's in the sling so that she's close, or I'll talk to her about how much fun that person might be to meet.  I never force her and always let her move at her own pace and it's worked well.  I wish my own parents had been so casual about it with me bc I was painfully shy growing up!  It may take finding someone that connects with him.  I also experienced as a youngster babysitting for a little girl who had an absolute panic attack every time her parents would leave for work.  But once they were gone she adored me, and had the same reaction when I would leave after her grandparents got there to pick her up.  The process of someone leaving was far more scary to her than the person doing the leaving.

post #3 of 10

If he has an actual fear of people, probably the best thing you can do is make sure he gets some exposure to a wider circle of people (in low stress situations where you're present).  If you aren't already doing so, make sure you take him *everywhere* with you (within reason) just so he gets used to being around a wide variety of people.  If you have play groups or other organized children's activities in your community, that's a good place to start.

 

If the main issue is he just isn't comfortable without YOU, you'll have to practice some separations (at low-key times) gradually building up to longer periods.  Definitely start by leaving him with someone he already knows when you do this.  If you have found a likely caregiver, introduce them ahead of time and spend some time familiarizing him with the environment (with you present) where he'll be spending his time while you're away at work (do this before you have to drop him off for a full day).  Depending on how sensitive your kid is, I'd do this *multiple* times before you go back to work.

 

If you find a caregiver you feel really good about, it will help you relax about leaving him there because they are used to dealing with this problem, and are often very good at distracting kids from the sadness of the separation (and helping them become more comfortable with a new routine).  The fact that he likes being around other kids will help him adjust a lot.  Since he is completely afraid of you leaving him, you'll have to make sure he understands you're coming back, so make sure you do the first couple of visits for short periods.  (Do a few partial days before you go back to working, so you'll know how he reacts before it feels critical). 

 

Hope this helps. 

post #4 of 10

Toddlerhood is the time for fears and anxiety, a normal stage of development. As cognitive function develops in the higher brain, baby is more aware of the world and it's dangers, especially as mobility ensues and baby could wander off away from the security and protection of mother. Stranger anxiety, fear of children, fear of people, even those family members not seen on a daily basis, can be very normal stages of development. From my reading, this stage usually resolves around three years of age. Each phase can take a couple of weeks to months. Is there any possibilty your sister could be a caretaker? Will your emplyment be outside of the home? If there is any chance you could work from home, a mother's helper or sitter at home may be a good option. Baby would be in his familiar environment and you could be available. FWIW, my son had a fear of children for quite a while and it has resolved. I think if you force the child beyond comfort it can backfire, but to support and just wait for readiness seems to be helpful. Good luck.

post #5 of 10

My son appears to be terrified of people...but I realized it's not exactly the people that he is afraid of, it's the uncertainty.  He needs some time to adjust and warm up and learn what the expectations are.  He is a visual learner too, so when we joined a local toddler gym, he outright refused to let any of the instructors handle him.  I thought it was just that he was shy, but I realized that once he understood what the routine was and what was expected of him that he was okay with most of the instructors, even the males, which he seems to be particularly weary of...But again, once the routine and expectations change, he needs to readjust and relearn what to do, and he won't let them help while he figures it out. 

 

I agree with a PP that if you can find a caregiver that is good with handling kids with a similar temperment, I would try to slowly introduce him to the environment.  Once he is comfortable and learns the routines and expectations then I'm sure that the separation will be much easier on him (and you).  Good luck, I know it's a hard choice to make!

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much Sassyfirechik for such an in depth response.  We actually don't go out much.  He's usually with me all day.  Dad works a lot and he will stay with him sometimes, if I need to cook or do something in the house without him but as far as babysitting.  His dad refuses to babysit. He's afraid to and Caleb cries sometimes when I leave him in the room with his dad.  I mean he cries bloody murder sometimes. His dad even spanked him for it once, which I was completely not in agreement with.  That upset me a lot but dad seems to think it's him being rude.  I don't think it is. His dad as a child, was the same way.  He does seems also, to be very afraid of men in general. He's afraid of all of his uncles, grandads and basically just afraid of everyone except is grandmoms and aunt.  Although my sister is the only person I can actually leave him with, which doesnt happen often.  His dad decided that he wants me to stay home an additional year and a half with him so guess I won't be working.  Although I still do need to fix this problem.  I keep thinking he'll get over thiswhen he begins to speak. 


Edited by Mama MeMe - 1/11/13 at 4:11pm
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much for such an in depth response.  We actually don't go out much.  He's usually with me all day.  Dad works a lot and he will stay with him sometimes, if I need to cook or do something in the house without him but as far as babysitting.  His dad refuses to babysit. He's afraid to and Caleb cries sometimes when I leave him in the room with his dad.  I mean he cries bloody murder sometimes. His dad even spanked him for it once, which I was completely not in agreement with.  That upset me a lot but dad seems to think it's him being rude.  I don't think it is. His dad as a child, was the same way.  He does seems also, to be very afraid of men in general. He's afraid of all of his uncles, grandads and basically just afraid of everyone except is grandmoms and aunt.  Although my sister is the only person I can actually leave him with, which doesnt happen often.  His dad decided that he wants me to stay home an additional year and a half with him so guess I won't be working.  Although I still do need to fix this problem.  I keep thinking he'll get over thiswhen he begins to speak. 

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama MeMe View Post

Thank you so much for such an in depth response.  We actually don't go out much.  He's usually with me all day.  Dad works a lot and he will stay with him sometimes, if I need to cook or do something in the house without him but as far as babysitting.  His dad refuses to babysit. He's afraid to and Caleb cries sometimes when I leave him in the room with his dad.  I mean he cries bloody murder sometimes. His dad even spanked him for it once, which I was completely not in agreement with.  That upset me a lot but dad seems to think it's him being rude.  I don't think it is. His dad as a child, was the same way.  He does seems also, to be very afraid of men in general. He's afraid of all of his uncles, grandads and basically just afraid of everyone except is grandmoms and aunt.  Although my sister is the only person I can actually leave him with, which doesnt happen often.  His dad decided that he wants me to stay home an additional year and a half with him so guess I won't be working.  Although I still do need to fix this problem.  I keep thinking he'll get over thiswhen he begins to speak. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asiago View Post

Toddlerhood is the time for fears and anxiety, a normal stage of development. As cognitive function develops in the higher brain, baby is more aware of the world and it's dangers, especially as mobility ensues and baby could wander off away from the security and protection of mother. Stranger anxiety, fear of children, fear of people, even those family members not seen on a daily basis, can be very normal stages of development. From my reading, this stage usually resolves around three years of age. Each phase can take a couple of weeks to months. Is there any possibilty your sister could be a caretaker? Will your emplyment be outside of the home? If there is any chance you could work from home, a mother's helper or sitter at home may be a good option. Baby would be in his familiar environment and you could be available. FWIW, my son had a fear of children for quite a while and it has resolved. I think if you force the child beyond comfort it can backfire, but to support and just wait for readiness seems to be helpful. Good luck.

Thank you for this Asiago.  I appreciate the support.  I'm fine with him doing things athis pace but his paternal uncles can tend to be agressive with him.  I'm uncomfortable with this but this  helps a lot.

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama MeMe View Post

Thank you so much for such an in depth response.  We actually don't go out much.  He's usually with me all day.  Dad works a lot and he will stay with him sometimes, if I need to cook or do something in the house without him but as far as babysitting.  His dad refuses to babysit. He's afraid to and Caleb cries sometimes when I leave him in the room with his dad.  I mean he cries bloody murder sometimes. His dad even spanked him for it once, which I was completely not in agreement with.  That upset me a lot but dad seems to think it's him being rude.  I don't think it is. His dad as a child, was the same way.  He does seems also, to be very afraid of men in general. He's afraid of all of his uncles, grandads and basically just afraid of everyone except is grandmoms and aunt.  Although my sister is the only person I can actually leave him with, which doesnt happen often.  His dad decided that he wants me to stay home an additional year and a half with him so guess I won't be working.  Although I still do need to fix this problem.  I keep thinking he'll get over thiswhen he begins to speak. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BabySmurf View Post

My son appears to be terrified of people...but I realized it's not exactly the people that he is afraid of, it's the uncertainty.  He needs some time to adjust and warm up and learn what the expectations are.  He is a visual learner too, so when we joined a local toddler gym, he outright refused to let any of the instructors handle him.  I thought it was just that he was shy, but I realized that once he understood what the routine was and what was expected of him that he was okay with most of the instructors, even the males, which he seems to be particularly weary of...But again, once the routine and expectations change, he needs to readjust and relearn what to do, and he won't let them help while he figures it out. 

 

I agree with a PP that if you can find a caregiver that is good with handling kids with a similar temperment, I would try to slowly introduce him to the environment.  Once he is comfortable and learns the routines and expectations then I'm sure that the separation will be much easier on him (and you).  Good luck, I know it's a hard choice to make!

 

Ok Baby Smurf, that's interesting.  My son too, is afraid of men and I couldn't figure out why.  Very good to get such a response.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama MeMe View Post

Thank you so much for such an in depth response.  We actually don't go out much.  He's usually with me all day.  Dad works a lot and he will stay with him sometimes, if I need to cook or do something in the house without him but as far as babysitting.  His dad refuses to babysit. He's afraid to and Caleb cries sometimes when I leave him in the room with his dad.  I mean he cries bloody murder sometimes. His dad even spanked him for it once, which I was completely not in agreement with.  That upset me a lot but dad seems to think it's him being rude.  I don't think it is. His dad as a child, was the same way.  He does seems also, to be very afraid of men in general. He's afraid of all of his uncles, grandads and basically just afraid of everyone except is grandmoms and aunt.  Although my sister is the only person I can actually leave him with, which doesnt happen often.  His dad decided that he wants me to stay home an additional year and a half with him so guess I won't be working.  Although I still do need to fix this problem.  I keep thinking he'll get over thiswhen he begins to speak. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asiago View Post

Toddlerhood is the time for fears and anxiety, a normal stage of development. As cognitive function develops in the higher brain, baby is more aware of the world and it's dangers, especially as mobility ensues and baby could wander off away from the security and protection of mother. Stranger anxiety, fear of children, fear of people, even those family members not seen on a daily basis, can be very normal stages of development. From my reading, this stage usually resolves around three years of age. Each phase can take a couple of weeks to months. Is there any possibilty your sister could be a caretaker? Will your emplyment be outside of the home? If there is any chance you could work from home, a mother's helper or sitter at home may be a good option. Baby would be in his familiar environment and you could be available. FWIW, my son had a fear of children for quite a while and it has resolved. I think if you force the child beyond comfort it can backfire, but to support and just wait for readiness seems to be helpful. Good luck.

Thank you for this Asiago.  I appreciate the support.  I'm fine with him doing things athis pace but his paternal uncles can tend to be agressive with him.  I'm uncomfortable with this but this  helps a lot.

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama MeMe View Post

Thank you so much for such an in depth response.  We actually don't go out much.  He's usually with me all day.  Dad works a lot and he will stay with him sometimes, if I need to cook or do something in the house without him but as far as babysitting.  His dad refuses to babysit. He's afraid to and Caleb cries sometimes when I leave him in the room with his dad.  I mean he cries bloody murder sometimes. His dad even spanked him for it once, which I was completely not in agreement with.  That upset me a lot but dad seems to think it's him being rude.  I don't think it is. His dad as a child, was the same way.  He does seems also, to be very afraid of men in general. He's afraid of all of his uncles, grandads and basically just afraid of everyone except is grandmoms and aunt.  Although my sister is the only person I can actually leave him with, which doesnt happen often.  His dad decided that he wants me to stay home an additional year and a half with him so guess I won't be working.  Although I still do need to fix this problem.  I keep thinking he'll get over thiswhen he begins to speak. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BabySmurf View Post

My son appears to be terrified of people...but I realized it's not exactly the people that he is afraid of, it's the uncertainty.  He needs some time to adjust and warm up and learn what the expectations are.  He is a visual learner too, so when we joined a local toddler gym, he outright refused to let any of the instructors handle him.  I thought it was just that he was shy, but I realized that once he understood what the routine was and what was expected of him that he was okay with most of the instructors, even the males, which he seems to be particularly weary of...But again, once the routine and expectations change, he needs to readjust and relearn what to do, and he won't let them help while he figures it out. 

 

I agree with a PP that if you can find a caregiver that is good with handling kids with a similar temperment, I would try to slowly introduce him to the environment.  Once he is comfortable and learns the routines and expectations then I'm sure that the separation will be much easier on him (and you).  Good luck, I know it's a hard choice to make!

 

Ok Baby Smurf, that's interesting.  My son too, is afraid of men and I couldn't figure out why.  Very good to get such a response.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama MeMe View Post

Thank you so much for such an in depth response.  We actually don't go out much.  He's usually with me all day.  Dad works a lot and he will stay with him sometimes, if I need to cook or do something in the house without him but as far as babysitting.  His dad refuses to babysit. He's afraid to and Caleb cries sometimes when I leave him in the room with his dad.  I mean he cries bloody murder sometimes. His dad even spanked him for it once, which I was completely not in agreement with.  That upset me a lot but dad seems to think it's him being rude.  I don't think it is. His dad as a child, was the same way.  He does seems also, to be very afraid of men in general. He's afraid of all of his uncles, grandads and basically just afraid of everyone except is grandmoms and aunt.  Although my sister is the only person I can actually leave him with, which doesnt happen often.  His dad decided that he wants me to stay home an additional year and a half with him so guess I won't be working.  Although I still do need to fix this problem.  I keep thinking he'll get over thiswhen he begins to speak. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asiago View Post

Toddlerhood is the time for fears and anxiety, a normal stage of development. As cognitive function develops in the higher brain, baby is more aware of the world and it's dangers, especially as mobility ensues and baby could wander off away from the security and protection of mother. Stranger anxiety, fear of children, fear of people, even those family members not seen on a daily basis, can be very normal stages of development. From my reading, this stage usually resolves around three years of age. Each phase can take a couple of weeks to months. Is there any possibilty your sister could be a caretaker? Will your emplyment be outside of the home? If there is any chance you could work from home, a mother's helper or sitter at home may be a good option. Baby would be in his familiar environment and you could be available. FWIW, my son had a fear of children for quite a while and it has resolved. I think if you force the child beyond comfort it can backfire, but to support and just wait for readiness seems to be helpful. Good luck.

Thank you for this Asiago.  I appreciate the support.  I'm fine with him doing things athis pace but his paternal uncles can tend to be agressive with him.  I'm uncomfortable with this but this  helps a lot.

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