How to handle 8 year old's strange long term phobia - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 2 Old 04-20-2011, 05:38 AM - Thread Starter
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My ds is 8 and for as long as I can remember he has been intensely afraid of roots.  As in, roots from plants, trees, etc...  Hiking through the woods, if he comes across them he screams, cries and runs away.  Refuses to go anywhere near the garden if we're weeding.  A few days ago he was riding his bike at the side of the road (rural area) and he rode through some plants and ended up pulling one up along with it's roots, which then got caught in his back tire and he freaked.  He was so scared.  He said it felt like the root was chasing him.  He gets hysterical, his heart is beating like crazy, he's crying and it takes him a while to calm down.  If you talk to him about it he can't really explain why he is scared of them - he just is.  We can't remember anything happening in the past that might have triggered this response.  He does tend to have some anxiety about things but we've always been able to work through them and he's gotten much better with those things.  The root thing seems to be so much more and is definitely what I consider a phobia rather than a normal fear. 


Do we just keep up with the talking calmly about them and reassuring him that he is safe?  Is there something else we should be doing?  Is this something he can "outgrow"?  We are a very outdoor family and I don't picture us being able to avoid all roots.

Karen - spouse to dh for 11 years, mama to ds (Nov '02), dd (May '05) and ds and dd (Jun '08)

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#2 of 2 Old 04-21-2011, 11:50 AM
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If he would like to overcome this phobia, you could try working with him on desensitization. , meditation and relaxation scripts that he can run,  , or cognitive behavioral therapy so that he can learn a new way of thinking about the roots. Or, one thing that works with horses is to do stimulus desensitization by starting with the scary object far away, or a very toned down version (like if the horse is afraid of blue tarps, you start with a piece the size of your hand that you can put in the horse's space or run over its body, and incrementally work up through folded up tarps to spread out tarps on the ground to tarps flapping in the wind). In his case, maybe you'd start with imagining, or with a very simple line drawing, move on to a photograph, then bean sprouts or grass and work your way up. Is he also afraid of [eating] carrots, beets, or other root veggies? I wonder if his fear boils down to something like this?

Doula, WOHM, wife to a super-fun papa, mama to the Monkey ('07), and his little brother, the Sea Monkey ('09).
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