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<p>My niece has just turned three and has always had a slight fear of statues, since she was able to articulate her fear that is, but for the past six months or so has had a debilitating fear reaction to most statues and toys, that are not normally seen as frightening. She is afraid of other children her age, she is afraid of books, toys, rooms, pictures...she will start screaming and shaking and crying and the only thing to do is to not approach whatever it is that she is afraid of, which seems to be everything lately, so it is very difficult for my sister to do anything. She has tried approaching the object of fear and showing her that it isn't something to be afraid of, but it doesn't work, she isn't open to it and just screams louder. My sister has been trying to ignore it ad not have a strong reaction to it, not get upset or concerned etc, but this doesn't make it any easier either.</p>
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<p>She tried to go Christmas shopping the other day in the kids section of Chapters, and she couldn't go anywhere, down any aisles because her daughter was afraid that there would be something scary everywhere. When there are other kids around that are her age she wants nothing to do with them and starts crying if they come close to her. My sister doesn't know what to do, and feels terrible that her daughter is afraid of everything, and wants to desperately help her overcome this fear.</p>
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<p>I said I would post here, as I have always received so much help and good advice here. So I welcome and thoughts or advice. My niece is currently playing under the kitchen table with my kids, as they made a fort for her under the table because she is afraid to leave the kitchen. She will be at my home for hours and won't leave the kitchen table area.</p>
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<p>Just to add, there has been nothing that either of us can remember that happened that could have started this fear, no trauma or fear early one, it just seems to have developed on its own...  <img alt="upsidedown.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/upsidedown.gif"></p>
 

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<p>My DD's fears aren't quite that severe, but she's afraid of lots of "normal" stuff too, as was DS at that age. DD is afraid of things like having her diaper changed (she thinks she's going to fall on the ceiling), taking baths (any tiny bit of fuzz or hair in the water freaks her out), and lots of other stuff that you would never be able to predict scaring her. DS just outgrew it eventually, and I'm just trusting that my DD will too. I think all your SIL can do is what she's already doing, just not reacting strongly and waiting for the phase to end -- it sounds tough! </p>
 

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<p>3 is a big age for irrational fears...  My guy was afraid of the disconnected stereo speakers in the hall and the singing fruit on Sesame St.  But your niece's fears do sound a bit more problematic.  Not reacting strongly and finding the line between honoring her fears but not catering to them is a good approach.  I'd never force a child to confront things she was afraid of but you also don't want to be too vigilant in protecting her lest she thinks they are really something to be afraid of.  Looking back, I suppose I helped my ds develop a few coping strategies such as singing a song. If he was going into a room by himself to get something, I'd sing while he did it on his own (that was progress from my going with him and was at an older age than 3).  I'd hear him singing to himself sometimes, too.</p>
 

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<p>Thank you to both of you. I will mention the singing to my sister, and hopefully she will outgrow it! <img alt="love.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/love.gif"></p>
 

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<p>A really good book is "Freeing Your Child From Anxiety" by Tamar Chansky. If this goes on more than a month or so, I would definitely seek out a child psychologist. Play therapy is probably best for this age. Three is the age of 'irrational' fears -- they suddenly see the world as big, scary and uncontrollable. But if the fears are controlling her to the extent that she can't go out and enjoy herself anywhere, she might need some more tools in her toolbox, and her parents might need some more strategies. Not everyone has to like crowds and stores, but she should be able to do things she wants without terror!</p>
 
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