My daughter is TERRIFIED of bugs, and it's all my fault. - Mothering Forums

 
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#1 of 17 Old 03-17-2008, 10:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm putting this here instead of the toddler forum because I know people who don't have toddlers anymore, but may have some good advice, may not read in there.

Anyway, my daughter is TERRIFIED of bugs. She's 2. The other day I made the mistake of making a big deal about her getting too close to a fire ant pile, and now she freaks out everytime she sees a bug, or anything that even looks like a bug.

For example, the other day in the bath tub a crumb that fell into the water after dinner freaked her out, she squirmed into the corner, screamed, cried, and wanted out of the tub like YESTERDAY. She wouldn't get back in even after I drained the tub and cleaned it out, so we finished her bath in the sink on the counter.

And yesterday we were outside playing with the dogs and a dragonfly flew by her, not even all that close, and she FAAAAREAKED out. I've never seen her so terrified before. Ever.

I don't know what to do. We've been drawing pictures of bugs, I have a few books with bugs in them so we've been reading those a lot lately. We made bugs out of play dough. We watched a show on TV about honey bees and she got a great kick out of the guy wearing bugs on his hat. But still, she sees one and she wigs out. Tonight a moth flew into the glass on the door, on the OUTSIDE, and she took off screaming out of the room.

How do I help her get over this?

Frankenstein never scared me. Marsupials do. Because they're FAST.
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#2 of 17 Old 03-18-2008, 12:15 AM
 
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I too have done my fair share of creating a fear in my oldest child. He is especially afraid of dogs and geese 'cause when he was a toddler and he would get to close to a dog or goose at the park I'd get all nervous and scoop him up. Now at five he becomes visibly uncomfortable and nervous and tries to hide behind me if a dog or goose comes near him (there are a lot of Canada Geese in the parks in the summer).

I don't have any great advice as nothing I did seemed to really help him move past his fears, but his reaction to his fears have mellowed over time (no more screaming, running, crying).

At least you know you're not the only one out there warping their children .
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#3 of 17 Old 03-18-2008, 12:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by mirthfulmum View Post
At least you know you're not the only one out there warping their children .
Thanx.

Frankenstein never scared me. Marsupials do. Because they're FAST.
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#4 of 17 Old 03-18-2008, 12:20 AM
 
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Have you thought about going to a pet store and getting a few crickets? Perhaps if she sees you playing with bugs she'll be receptive to touching one? Or not freaking out? Good luck.
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#5 of 17 Old 03-18-2008, 12:28 AM
 
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I wish I could give you advice, but I am just here to commiserate. My daughter, now 4 1/2, is terrified of bugs. And I think it is just her thing - I don't think a parent does something to cause it. Your fire ant story does not seem extreme enough to have caused your daughter's continued reaction.

I am just hoping she will grow out of it. It was slightly better last year than the year before, but spring is coming, and if there is an aphid(!) in the car or sticking to the outside of the window, we have to pull over and take care of it, or else we will have an accident.

She is also terrified of our chickens, and of dogs. Maybe it's a control issue? She can't control or predict the movements of these critters, so it's scary?

L.
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#6 of 17 Old 03-18-2008, 12:42 AM
 
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My 3 yo son is also terrified of insects or anything small and in motion (specs in the bath water, little petals falling from the trees). He got stung on the eyelid by a bee in the fall, which is what started it.

No advice, other than try to be patient and reassuring. The freak-outs get old for me, but I try to trust that he will learn both from my calm example (well, I TRY to be calm all the time) and from the fact that nothing bad has happened to him lately.

I don't think it's your fault that she's afraid, any more than it's the bee's fault that my son's afraid. Plenty of kids have resiliency to plenty of things. I think we can't predict or control what our kids learn from us. They will learn some of the things we purposely teach them, and some of the things we try NOT to teach them (our anxieties, fears, prejudices), but in the end all we can do is love them and recognize that they are separate, if interconnected, beings from us. So let yourself off the hook. s Peace!

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#7 of 17 Old 03-18-2008, 10:47 AM
 
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Just chiming in to say I don't think it's your fault she's afraid. My DD is terrified of dogs, and she has never had a bad experience with a dog, and I've never expressed any kind of thought that dogs are dangerous, scary, etc. We all love dogs around here. I think it's just one of those things. I think you're doing the right thing by letting her learn all she can about bugs. She might still be afraid, though--fear knows no logic.
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#8 of 17 Old 03-18-2008, 12:08 PM
 
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I agree, I don't think it's your fault. I'm 31 and completely terrified of bugs. I know it's irrational but that doesn't stop me from being afraid. And I didn't have any triggering experience either.
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#9 of 17 Old 03-18-2008, 01:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I say it's my fault because she never showed any sort of fear of bugs until I started yelling "get away from the bugs, get away from the bugs, they'll bite you, your toes will blister, get away! get away!". Or something like that.

She had fire ants get inside her crocks once, her big toe swelled up, and her foot blistered and got all pussy. She never thought twice about them after that, didn't phase her. But the other day I just acted out of instinct. She was all the way on the other side of the yard, and it was a BIG mound. She would have stood right on top of it before I could get to her, so I was trying to avoid her getting another shoe full of ants.

It back fired.

Frankenstein never scared me. Marsupials do. Because they're FAST.
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#10 of 17 Old 03-19-2008, 11:09 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mirthfulmum View Post
I too have done my fair share of creating a fear
{of bugs} inserted by me to clarify

OH yeah.. been there.. done that.. Spiders... really big mucking spiders... Yeah.. well... this set the stage and EVERY single Spring.. when the bugs wake up.. the kids FREAK out..

the 3 YO freaks about every speck in the bathtub.. every piece of lint on the floor.. we had an ant problem last fall.. and OMG.. it was terrible.. the screaming..

The older one is better about it.. being nearly 7 now and having learned about bugs at school.. but the middle child is just terrified and she got it from me and her older brother (who got it from me)

I try, now, to be very matter of fact with bugs.. It helps.. slightly...

They are totally scarred for life on this one...DH says they'll never like bugs...
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#11 of 17 Old 03-20-2008, 06:48 AM
 
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Well if it makes you feel any better I have done the same thing to my daughter... I do not like bugs and one time this HUGE spider made its way down from our tree and I just about had a heart attack and now she is afraid of all bugs. Fire ants are a big deal here too. She also wants to get out of the tub if there are any specks in it.
It has eased up a bit over the last year, since I have made a real effort to not freak out. Poor child is even afraid of ladybugs which is just sad.
But I will not be going to a pet store and playing with crickets. Blech.
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#12 of 17 Old 03-20-2008, 08:40 AM
 
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Originally Posted by North_Of_60 View Post

How do I help her get over this?
My youngest went through a bug freak out stage.

At first, I tried to make bugs interesting. When I'd see one, I'd comment, "Look at the pretty colors on this wing" or "Isn't it funny how that little cricket can make such a loud noise" or whatever. I thought that finding something positive and fun would lessen his fear.

Didn't work. (Not that it couldn't work for another kid--just didn't work for him.)

So, then I just ignored the bugs. When he'd announce that he spotted one outside, I'd give a bland, "Yeah, I see." and go on about my business. When he saw one inside, I'd calmly and without discussion capture it and release it outside. I was very nonchalant about it. If he needed to leave the room, fine, but I didn't make a big deal about it being okay, or there not being any reason to be scared, etc., I'd just calmly tell him, "The bug is outside now." once I took care of it.

My being calm and matter-of-fact about it eventually worked. He'll now go in search of bugs outside and even hold them. He still has a teeny issue with spiders in the house--but he's over the rest of it.

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#13 of 17 Old 03-20-2008, 12:41 PM
 
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I HATE fire ants!!

My neice had an out of control bug fear. Like, I mean, she scared the heck out of me in the car when she let out a blood-curdling scream because there was a fly in the car. I almost had a heart attack! The poor thing would climb you to try to get away from the tiniest harmless bug. She came up with this on her own, her mother doesn't have bug issues or anything. It was just her thing for a while.

But then she got over it, almost as quickly as she got into it. She's not collecting bugs or anything but now she has normal bug squeamishness. So, hopefully it will be a phase for your DD.
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#14 of 17 Old 03-20-2008, 12:48 PM
 
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I just did this. My daughter and I were in the bath the other day and a spider came down and I freaked. I'm not even scared of spiders, but I didn't have my glasses, so I couldn't see what was coming at me. Plus being naked made me feel more vulnerable. I am trying to explain why spiders are good bugs, etc, but I'm worried I screwed her up/

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#15 of 17 Old 03-20-2008, 01:08 PM
 
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been threw this..
what i ended up doing after months of trying to stop the battle. i gave up and started teaching about ones that do bite and the ones that dont. making sure to say all the time that they bite/sting when they are afraid and because we are so big and they are so small that is the only thing they can do.
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#16 of 17 Old 03-20-2008, 05:24 PM
 
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Mo daughter is freaked out by bugs, and I'm pretty sure I have nothing to do with it. She saw a half-dead fly lying on the floor once and was very scared- I wasn't, so I'm sure she doesn't get it from me . Maybe your daughter is the same, a lot of people freak out when they see bugs after all...
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#17 of 17 Old 03-21-2008, 12:35 AM
 
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Well, you know how when a dog is scared of something and the owners reassure it and pet it and do the baby talk, it reinforces the fear?

To some extent, I think that applies to kids, too.

Let it go for a while.

In a couple of months take an opportunity to appreciate bugs doing cool bug things. If she resists, let it go for a little while longer.

She'll come around.

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