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My DD is 19 months and for the past few months has been VERY shy and scared around strange men. She is OK with her daddy and her papa (my FIL) and boys who haven't reached puberty yet, but all others are unacceptable to her and she will hide her face with her hands or snuggle into my shoulder when they are around or look at her. Heaven forbid they speak to her! She is even like this with her godfather and my dad. She is slightly shy with women, but gets over it quickly (minutes).<br><br>
It's not like she's not socialized because we are out and about a lot and have been from the time she was an infant, and this is a new thing. Granted, she sees more women than men when we are at Target and park, etc.<br><br>
I would try to be relaxed about this and just wait out the phase, but it's becoming very difficult to go out to eat with her because we inevitably have a male waiter or a man sitting nearby and she melts down. So, I'd really like to find some strategies to help her so that we can go to restaurants with her again.<br><br>
Anyone have a similar experience and have any advice or encouragement for me? Thanks! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up"><br><br>
p.s. I googled this issue and a lot of the info I found talked about abuse trauma, so I want to say that the only men she is left alone with are her daddy and his dad, her papa. I have zero suspicion that either of them could be abusing her...I don't see any signs of it them or in her and I have been educated on what to look for.
 

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My oldest didn't have meltdowns unless strange men went in her personal space but she did go through a stage around 18 - 24 months where she wouldn't go near any men except her grandfather who we lived with, not even any uncles or anything that she saw regularly but not daily. I just tried to stay between her and them and make sure they weren't in her space or directly engaging with her and eventually she outgrew it...<br><br>
That's not really any help to you, but I just thought I'd throw in my two cents that I think it's just a stage that she'll grow out of!
 

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My DS went through this too. He also didn't have the meltdowns unless they got too close, and would usually at least tolerate them in the same room after 10-15 minutes. We had to usually explain "he just a few minutes to get warmed up" so the attention could be taken off of him, and he had time to just breath and check out the new setting/person.<br><br>
He's 2 now, and still won't tolerate many familiar men (other than family) even picking him up, but he's much quicker to engage them in a friendly way (showing them a toy or a rock or something) He'll willingly chat with a store clerk or someone in an elevator most days now too.<br><br>
I actually didn't sweat it too much. I figure he should have a sense of "fear" with someone new. It's like he was waiting to see how I would react to the person, and he would relax more once I was engaging more - like he was waiting to see if they could be trusted.<br><br>
It's a fine balance I'm finding between being friendly/not afraid and stranger awareness/safety.<br><br>
We don't do restaurants (food allergies) so I can't relate to that specifically. You could certainly just let the waiter know "she's a little weary of new faces, if you don't mind just taking my order over here" and just making sure she is seated close to the person farthest away from the waiter? (Making sure maybe she's not even in the highchair until after the waiter is gone, so she feels safe in someone's arms?)<br><br>
I think you'll find she gets a little better as time passes. Just keep being there for her, so she knows she is safe <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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You may just have to wait for her to grow out of it before you can go out to eat again. I really doubt there is any abuse going on, this kind of specific shyness is common among children. I know someone who was terrified of anyone elderly with she was young. Not for any real reason, just that there was something about them that scared her.
 

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My 15 month old DD is in this phase right now. I try really hard to respect it - if she doesn't want to interact with someone, she doesn't have to. I fully expect she will grow out of it at some time, so I'm just trying to go with the flow. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up">
 

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DD went through this same phase... only she was born feeling uncomfortable around most men. By the time she was a year, she was no longer simply shy around men she didn't know (and even male relatives) she'd go into meltdown mode if a man spoke to her.<br><br>
She finally started to come out of it around age 2. Now, at almost 3 she's much more sociable and doesn't freak out when a male cashier at the grocery store talks to her.<br><br>
When we were in the thick of it and she'd have a meltdown, I'd simply tell the guy that she was shy and uncomfortable around men. The poor guys usually looked so stricken, thinking they'd done something to terrify her when in fact it was simply the fact that they were men.<br><br>
I also made a point of avoiding male cashiers for a while, and holding her whenever she started to look uncomfortable in situations where we couldn't really avoid men (this didn't always stop the crying, but it was all I could do to help). I think the close physical contact with me was reassuring. Eventually, she'd simply reach for my hand and that was enough to reassure her. But until we got there, yeah, it could be tough but we simply waded through each situation.<br><br>
Mostly, I think you just have to let them outgrow it. *Hugs*
 

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Thanks everyone <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up">, I'm relieved to hear the other stories and know that this happens to other kids because none of the children we know IRL have this huge fear of men.<br><br>
I was reflecting on this just now and realized that sometimes she is OK, if she is running free. We went to the zoo last week and she didn't seem fazed by any of the dads there, because she was toddling around and distracted by all of the sights and sounds. Her man meltdowns are usually in a high chair, stroller, shopping cart or in my arms or a carrier. Maybe she feels safer if she can run away <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/shy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="innocent"><br><br>
It stinks that she won't play with my dad and it was horrible recently when she had a high fever and the only doctor available for a last-minute appointment was a male, and it's high drama when the mailman comes to the door with a package. But I can handle all of that. It's trying to eat my delicious, hot meal around a toddler snuggling her face into my shoulder to avoid looking at the server that really gets to me. I guess we'll just need to get takeout for awhile <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad">
 

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My oldest son was very wary of any man until he was at least 3 or so. Men can be scary, they are loud, their voices are near as soft as a womans, so it doesn't surprise me that a lot of kids do this.
 
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