DD, 30 months, recently discovered the meaning of the word "fear". Now it seems she's afraid of EVERYTHING...a car starting outside, the sound of a dog barking, the sound of the toilet flushing, the sound of the shower starting, a cushion on the floor, something weird on her plate...EVERYTHING. It's almost as if she's come into a period of hyper-awareness about the world around her and she's generally terrified of all of it.
I regularly hear "Mommy I'm afraid!" and then DD either starts bawling or comes *running* to me to hide. Though I try my best to calm her and explain to her that whatever she's afraid of is not going to hurt her...it doesn't really work. She's just so scared...
Have others dealt with something similar? What did you do about it?
My dd (24 months) understood "scared" about 2 months ago. She doesn't say it about everything, but when she does say "Mommy I'm scared!" and I ask her of what and she either tells me or shows me, I just go there with her, explain whatever it is (a sound, show her out the window or whever it came from and what it is), and let her know that it's ok that she's scared but it won't hurt her.
While she still finds new things that scare her, she seems to eventually evolve away from being scared of the things we've already talked about. Now with most of them when she hears or sees it she says "Mommy garbage truck!" or "Mommy big bug!" and shows it to me but doesn't seem as afraid and seems able to look/listen to the thing with interest and curiosity as opposed to fear.
Since your dd is 30 months, can you try to talk through what about the thing she fears? If it's a sound or something else, can you talk to her about showing her it isn't going to hurt her and then reproduce it (sound, sight, whatever it is) a few times to see if it helps her understand it's not scary? Of course if it further terrifies her that's not a good strategy but maybe if she understands each thing even better than she does it won't be so scary?
My dd loves the tv show Yo Gabba Gabba but for some reason the "Super Music Friends" part freaks her out a little. So everytime that part comes on and she comes and gets me, I try to just watch it with her and get her to dance or make fun of things in the segment so it is less scary and it seems to be working.
Perhaps there's something specific that she's afraid of, and she's using anything she can get for reassurance? Generally kids of this age don't have verbal memory, but they have emotional memory, so when something startles her, she's associated that startle memory with needing reassurance. I would check around in her day to see what really sets her off.
Or, she could just be using it as an excuse for attention. ;)
My son, 18 months, is in the thick of this right now. (VERY thankful for the scared sign from signing time!) He used to love loud noises (vaccum, coffee grinder, etc.) now FREAKS out. We now prepare him for a loud noise and usually have to hold him when the loud noise is going off. He has a fear of stuffed animals, anything over peoples heads, etc. I'm guessing it is a phase....and this too will pass.
My DS was scared of everything, pretty much from birth. Actually from before birth (one time I put headphones to my belly, on low, so I could feel him 'dance' like I hear some do, and he jumped so strongly, I could tell I terrified him & I felt HORRIBLE).
He is starting to be OK with some things (he's 23mos). One thing that helped with the vacuum, for ex., was we let him play with it while it was turned off. He also took sticks etc. and pretended they were vacuums & made the noise himself. Then he would start turning it on himself for a minute or so, and now a few months later he will happily vacuum the whole room with it turned on, or let us vacuum. Same thing with the radio -- we made sure the volume was low, and let him turn it on & off (and later he started playing with the volume). Or dirt (or bugs) -- we gave him a rag to clean it up. It seemed like, once he realized it was something in his control, it lost its hold over him. Of course there are things out of our control -- like a car or truck going by or the furnace kicking in -- so we talk about it & explain what's going on, why it's so noisy, etc. It's helped some, but there are still times he runs & jumps into my arms because of the 'loud noise' or 'boom boom'...