phobias in 12 yr old DD - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 2 Old 03-22-2011, 07:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Cross posted in teens 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 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

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#2 of 2 Old 03-22-2011, 12:17 PM
 
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I would suggest therapy first, and I think both you and your H/DD have valid points. She wont change until she's ready. However, it may be that once in therapy, she'll be willing to work with someone who is not Mom. Once she gets comfortable, she may be more willing to take risks and start to work on it with a stranger who does not have a big stake in it. I've done that myself- claim I dont want to do something because I am scared, but in private, with a therapist who is non judgmental and supportive and not vested in the outcome, admit that maybe it was something I might want to work on, and we did, slowly. The idea of changing itself can be scary.

I wonder if it would help if you explained the reason for therapy differently- maybe, that its ok if she has these fears, but its not ok with you that you have to alter your schedule and activities so drastically to accommodate them, and you want to go to therapy so you two can find a way for you to work together. So she's not going to change her phobias, per se, but to work on how they effect you, and your relationship. She might be more willing since you aren't demanding she change the phobias, and once she gets into counseling, she might see that working on them could help. Or she might not, but come up with ways to keep her phobias, and not inconvenience you. She might also learn ways to manage her anxiety herself- so while it makes her anxious to go to bed herself, she could maybe learn to handle it.

Or, you could simply say that you are worried about her and her anxiety, and you want her to feel better. That you hope going to therapy will help her with that, but she can use it as she wishes. A good therapist may be able to steer her around to the phobias in a non-threatening way. Or, it could be theres an underlying issue she wants to work out first that will help the phobias in the long run.

Overall, I think you might have a lifestyle clash- if your DD lived someplace where she didnt have to swim or go boating, never went near caves and butterflys were few and far between she'd be ok. And really, those things aren't that hard to avoid. I'm not saying YOU should, just that if she keeps them, when she becomes an adult she can choose a lifestyle where they really wont bother her. I think fear of fish really isnt that uncommon. I've known several people who were scared of fish- some to the point they refused to swim at all except in pools. And fear of bugs is also not uncommon.
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