2.5 year old screams and cries when around strangers, especially at restaurants - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 08-01-2010, 08:02 PM - Thread Starter
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My daughter is 33 months old. For the past few months when we go out, she will scream and cry and ask to be taken outside/to the car if anybody she doesn't know tries to talk to her or gets too close to her. So we'll take turns being outside with her, because she refuses to come back inside.
Yesterday we went out to dinner to celebrate my sister winning her first law case. It was all fine and good until my sister and her boyfriend got there, and he sat down next to her. She immediately seemed uncomfortable, and then when my son (15) months started crying, she started screaming and crying too, to be taken outside. So we took her outside. My son was fine after a few minutes, but she was upset until the food came. Then she came in and ate, and as soon as she was done eating, she pushed her plate away, said, "I'm all done mommy." And started crying and screaming that she wanted to go outside again.
Then this afternoon, we went to my niece's birthday party, and she seemed OK (though a little nervous) until my niece's other grandparents were trying to talk to her, and my son started the crying again, and then she started screaming and crying to go outside. My son was again fine after a few minutes, but she stayed outside for the rest of the birthday party.
Is there anything I can do to help her overcome this? I try telling her that the people talking to her are nice people, or that they're friends or relatives or the people she does know, but it doesn't work. Should I keep taking her places where people are likely to talk to her, or give it a break for a little while? For the record, the only people she usually socializes with are her brother, my parents, my sister and her daughter, and me. I've tried starting up a local playgroup, but there was no interest. We live sort of in the middle of nowhere, with no car during the day, so we don't have much of a chance to get out and be around other people.
Sorry this is so long, any advice would be appreciated.

Casey - Mama to Zola (10-20-07) and Felix (4-30-09)
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#2 of 3 Old 08-02-2010, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Casey - Mama to Zola (10-20-07) and Felix (4-30-09)
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#3 of 3 Old 08-03-2010, 12:19 PM
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Not sure how verbal she is, but have you tried asking her what is up? Maybe try acting it out with dolls/stuffed animals and see if you can get some insight into what is causing her to react so strongly?

Also, from your two examples, is it always happening after your son starts crying? That might give you a clue as to what is going on. Also, both those examples are in strange surroundings, at least I think the birthday party is. Also, she asks to go outside, maybe the outside is comforting somehow? And the fact that she came back in to eat at the restaurant and didn't start screaming to go outside again until she was done eating seems like another important clue if that is normally how it goes. Maybe it is also boredom or just wanting to do something else also playing in.

Taking a break might help. Maybe easing her in by having her meet a "stranger" (obviously can be family or whatever that she just doesn't know well) in a familiar place. Or go someplace unfamiliar but only with familiar people? Maybe the combo of unfamiliar place + people is overwhelming her?

Sorry I wasn't much help, but I figured at least something I said might spark an idea for you!

Katie trekkie.gif - Married to Mike 06/02/01, Mom to Sydney Anne born 11/21/09 and Alice Maeryn & Oliver Thomas born 04/24/13  hug.gif 



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