questions about my sensitive/emotionally very aware toddler - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 08-11-2009, 05:48 PM - Thread Starter
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i don't know if this is normal or common, but i've never read anything about it or seen it with another kid, so i'm thinking it's not... but i need advice! my DD2 is 14 months old. she is very sensitive to other people's injuries, to the point where if my DH pretends to trip while horsing around with the girls, she starts to cry. pretending to fall used to crack up DD1 when she was little, so we were surprised that DD2 didn't like it. well, we just stopped doing that, but she still sees people fall, or pretend to fall, in public and freaks out.

last week, a man in front of us on line at the airport had a seizure. the moment he fell down, DD started screaming and crying. you'd have thought she'd been severely hurt. i explained that he was going to be OK and got her out of there immediately, but it took her a bit to calm down. a few days later we were watching some comic street performers, and one of them jumped to the ground and she started screaming again. today, she started crying when a mom we were playing with spoke barely-sternly to her son.

what do i do? just keep explaining? how long do you think till she outgrows it? we don't do much TV (mostly only PBS and some videos), so she doesn't see any violence, and certainly none IRL. i'm not sure i could shelter her more than i do, or if sheltering is going to be the best course of action? and for how long? the sensitivity started before the man had the seizure, and there was no injury she witnessed that started the sensitivity.

if anyone's BDTD, i would greatly appreciate any advice or insight!!
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#2 of 9 Old 08-11-2009, 07:03 PM
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At the moment it sounds like you're doing the right thing. Avoiding it at home when you can and removing her from the situation when it's unavoidable. Unfortunatly people getting hurt is impossibly to avoid all together. Even if you stay in the house constantly at some point someone will fall or get hurt and she will see it.

If she doesn't grow out of it, and there is a chance of that, then you can start talking to her about it. Why she is upset, why it's upsetting, what can you do in that situation etc. Basically help her learn to take control of at the very least herself in that situation.

Some people are just more sensitive to others and it's often a good thing. She is a little young to understand the difference between a real fall and a pretend fall too so to her even the fake ones are real and just as upsetting.

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#3 of 9 Old 08-11-2009, 11:19 PM
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Have you tried Rescue Remedy?
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#4 of 9 Old 08-11-2009, 11:33 PM
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No advice, just coming in here to say that you're describing my little brother. And now he's a well-adjusted, normal 21 year-old - and I can guarantee that you're a better parent than my mom.

Sounds like you're doing the right thing.

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#5 of 9 Old 08-12-2009, 01:17 AM
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I think you're doing the right things. As she gets better able to articulate her ideas/feelings, you'll be able to talk about it.

Two book suggestions:
The Emotional Life of the Toddler
The Highly Sensitive Child

My dd was very sensitive to others' feelings as an infant, and she's still emotionally sensitive (and a little dramatic) now at 5. Ds was very sensitive to tone of voice, so I really had to learn to tone it down.

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#6 of 9 Old 08-12-2009, 10:14 AM
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My DD is also 14 mos...she is not *quite* where your DD is, but almost. If someone is hurt or upset, she will first rush to comfort that person. Anything she can do to try and calm them, she frantically them a piece of food she has, rubs them on the back...whatever she can, if that doesn't work or we are in a place where I can't let her go comfort the person (like in public, when it's a stranger or something) THEN she freaks...and if the person or child can't be calmed, she gets very upset, will pace around and start crying,, I think maybe it's normal development for a kid who is more emotionally sensitive but still at an age where it's harder from a communication standpoint to help them process.

I think when your DD reaches an age where there are better language skills, it will be easier to help her process what is going on so she's not so dramatically effected by the meantime, it sounds like you're doing a really excellent job handling things mama!!

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#7 of 9 Old 08-13-2009, 12:56 AM
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I understand your problem completely. Isn't it amazing how different one child can be from the next? Our first daughter is our sensitive one. Our second one is a walking wreck who thinks all injuries are funny. It can be difficult to deal with, but I've learned over the last 2 years of observing them both that they just have different personalities and to embrace them for who they are. I don't know if you're a believer in astrology or not, but I am and it explains a lot in terms of things like this. My sensitive daughter has a ton of water signs in her birth chart, making her a lot more sensitive than my little bulldozer daughter.
I don't think sheltering her is the answer. At some point, she will have to get out into the world and she will experience people being injured and things of that nature. That said, I wouldn't turn on COPS and park her in front of it! lol. But finding books or kids' videos that explain that people sometimes get hurt could be really helpful for her.
A breaking point for us was when one of our three cats (the twin sister of another) was hit by a car and killed. We were all outside when it happened. I put the kids inside before they had seen anything, but we did have to explain it to our daughter and I think it was a helpful step in the right direction for her. Injury and death are a very normal, natural part of life. Can you imagine how she's going to handle school if she's not adjusting to aggression and injury? Gym class alone could be totally traumatic for her. So maybe ease her into it, read some kids' books about it, and talk about it as much as she needs to. Maybe she just needs to talk through her fears.
(I also don't know if you believe in this, but kids between the ages of 2-5 are said to be much more in touch with past lives than humans of any other age. If your child has an irrational fear of something, consider the possibility that she was injured the way in a past life. Especially something so specific as falling. I would ask her about it, if it's not morally objectionable to you. Just try a simple "Did you fall before and get hurt?" and see where the conversation leads. It can be quite interesting!

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#8 of 9 Old 08-13-2009, 12:03 PM
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The past life reference is an interesting one.

They could be a past experience that she is very sensitive to.

I remember my one niece was always talking about things that happened to her when she was little- she was only 2!

She would have full stories that came out of nowhere.

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#9 of 9 Old 08-13-2009, 12:10 PM
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My DD was also similar when she was tiny. She has always been very sensitive to the way other people feel, how she makes them feel, and aware of what's going on around her. As soon as she started to talk it was a lot easier because she was able to communicate her worries--she asks all the time, "Are you sad/mad/angry/hurt? What happened? Can I snuggle you?" She's 3 now.

I think it's normal for some kids to be that sensitive. I think the best you can do right now is to verbally reassure her that everything is ok and explain what happened or is happening when she gets upset. If she really is hysterically freaking out then remove her from the situation and still gently explain what happened.

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