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Hi! I'm looking for a little insight and hoping that someone can help me out. My dd is 3 years old. She's always been fairly "spirited" with an active imagination. Over the last few months she's started exhibiting extreme fears over pretty normal, non-threatening things. It started right around her third birthday. The first was a fear of wind. If we were outside and she felt any wind, she'd start panicking and try to get back inside the house. And would try to bring everything in with her (swimming pool, picnic table, etc). She would stand inside looking out worrying about the trees blowing away, etc. That slowly faded away, though she needs reassurance that nothing will blow away and on really windy days we may not be able to go outside.

The next fear that set in is was of commercials and credits at the end of movies. Generally she gets to watch very little tv and we don't watch tv around her (unless it's world cup). So it's not such a big deal to just keep the tv off. If we do have something on now though, an adult has to be in the same room, remote in hand ready to turn off the tv should commercials or credits appear. If you attempt to get up for a glass of water (kitchen in at the other end of the room, all hell breaks loose.

We're still in the midst of the tv thing and now she's added in kitchen timers to the mix. If she sees me set it, she gets very worried about it going off and ends up in an incosolable pile of tears unless I turn it off.

Whew, so is this just a part of 3 year old development that I haven't read about yet? I'm not so worried about the fears themselves, it's more the intense reaction she has. My in-laws have suggested that she's just trying to manipulate me, but these are very real and raw emotions. I have no idea who to talk to about this and other parents that I've brought it up with look at me like I have three heads.

Anyone out there go through something like this?
 

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My 4 year old is really afraid of high winds and lightening. He has never seen any damage from either one. But the fear is still there. I just let him sleep in our room when it is stormy. DH on the other hand, does not want him in our room ever. So we have to compromise and let him make a bed in the hallway outside our room and our door is open. We also close his bedroom door so he doesn't see all the storminess through his window. This seems to help him.

I know about phobias. When I was about four or five my mother told me that a big green man lived under the esculator. If I went near it, he would grab my toes and suck me under and I would have to live with him forever. Now that was 50 years ago but to this day I can not get on an esculator. I just know that green man is still under there. Listen to her fears, but try to help her see the truth at the same time. You don't want her to be terrified when she is my age.

Kathi
 

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When my dd was 3, it sometimes seemed like it was easier to list the things she *wasn't* afraid of. She was terrified of rain, lightening, wind, vaccuum cleaners (even unplugged!) power tools, pretty much any type of machine that looked like it might at some point make a noise, blenders, coffee grinders, any type of contruction equipment, any noise of unknown origin, cars in need of repair, hyper dogs, static on tv...I'm sure there were more.

Her fear was very intense and no amount of reasurrance that said item would not harm her seemed to convince her. She definately wasn't trying to manipulate me. It was very real and scary to her.

Now she still doesn't like some of those things on the list, but she doesn't get paralyzed with fear like she used to.

I teach dance to 3 year olds and if a bug comes in the studio you'd think it was a grizzly bear. Chaos breaks out and order cannot be restored until I have captured the insect and put it outside. Also I remembered being terrified of public toilets when I was 3. Made potty training fun for my mom! So maybe it is an age thing.
 

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umm...this might sound really "out there"...not even sure if I buy it myself...BUT since you asked...some people believe that intense fears are linked to past life events, particularly the way someone may have died...

Once when we were driving in Laguna Beach my very young son (who had no concept of time or years) said, this reminds me of when I was here in the seventies. A few minutes later as we drove up a hill near the ocean he freaked out crying and demanded that we stop, he said he was afraid we would die...

anyway, there is a book called Children's Past Lives you may want to look at..I feel weird just saying that...but the research in it is pretty interesting.

just a thought
 

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OMG, I can't even tell you how GLAD I was to read your post. In April, my daughter's balloon flew away and b4 this point she would have just smiled and waved goodbye toit, but she FREAKED out, I honestly thought someone was either stealing her or sawing off her leg, I have never heard the painful sounds emitted from her mouth. And then, for the next 3 months she was TERRIFIED of things blowing away in the wind. It got so bad that at one point we couldn't even go outside. The neighbors trash blewover and was scattered slightly and she ran around franticly trying to collect every little piece screaming that it would blow away. She was afraid our shade umbrella would blow away and we cried until we put it in the garage. It was simply aweful. I actually called a therapist thinking she was some how developing a really unhealthy phobia that I wasn't handling correctly. He knows me pretty well and first we decided that I was more upset about her being upset than she was. Then we decided to work on the behavior first, so we talked about where she thought the balloon might have gone, what wind is/does/how it's helpful etc., we read a lot of books.now, she'll just cover up a napkin with a rock (even if it's not windy) and say, "it's too heavy to fly away".

She at different points has been afraid of different things. When she was 15 months, for 3 months I couldn't give her a bath, I had to sponge bathe her in the living room--she was terrified of the tub. It went away, one day she just pointed to the tub to be turned on, I turned it on and she climbed in and it was all over.

Part of me wonders if Phobia's aren't PARTLY just a test for us, to see how protective we'll be, if we'll still be there and love them. You're daughter sounds completely normal, just love her through her fears and you'll be fine!
Sarah
 

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my son has more fears/anxieties than i can count. he's an ultra-sensitive child (may have sensory integration issues) and i think this is just part of it. we just calmly support him, say that everything's gonna be ok and avoid the things he's afraid of if we can. i gotta say, it hasn't been too hard to avoid vacuuming. LOL!!!
 

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I just wanted to say that 3 was a particularly bad year for phobias in our house. He was even terrified of some of our lights (hanging ones). It peaked at 3, got a bit easier in 4 and at 5, it is much MUCH better.
 

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I would highly recommend the book "The Highly Sensitive Child" -- our son had intense phobias starting around age 2, and continuuing well into his 3s and 4s. I think it's mostly growing awareness of the world combined with an inability to predict when things are going to happen. You might try teaching your daugther the cues that indicate a commericial is coming up. (Or limit TV to PBS where they only come at the beginning and the end!) Once our son understood when some things happened or how some things worked, it got better. (Though I have yet to be able to answer the question "Where does the wind go when it's not windy?")

Our son's only remaining "phobia", if you can call it that, is loud noises. And this, it turns out is due to sensory processing disorder (aka sensory integration disorder). It turns out that he is (a) hypersensitive to sound -- we knew that, he notices sounds that other people can't hear and (b) has very poor sense of where his body is in space (vestibular issues) so that he literally cannot tell where loud noises are coming from and they "feel" like they're on top of him, about to attack him. We're getting Occupational Therapy for his vestibular issues (which includes listening therapy) and I'm hoping in a year or two that he won't be quite so reactive to sound. It's already helped tremendously with touch -- he wouldn't take his shoes off or wear shorts last year. This year he's going barefoot in the grass wearing shorts! (The Out of Sync Child or Sensational Kids are two good books about this if you're curious about this.)
 

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Roar, I'm definitely going to buy that book - thanks so much for recommending!

My DD does have anxiety issues, and has a few phobias. DH & I sought counseling for it, and got some good suggestions. My biggest concern was that she would have a hard time at school because of it, or develop OCD.

Now, when she freaks out at something harmless, I hold her and we work to calm her breathing. I usually insist she stand her ground (with me holding and talking calmly to her) until her panic passes and she's breathing normally. I know with DD, it's not the train/ferry/whatever she's scared of - it's the panicky feelings inside her she's scared of. It helps her IMMENSELY to know that she can feel calm in the presence of the things she's scared of.

The other thing that really helps now is reminding DD that she can be brave. I remind her of things she used to be scared of, but that she conquered that particular fear. It makes her so proud, and gives her confidence to overcome new fears.

HTH,
 

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I would suggest being sympathetic in a matter of fact way. A strong reaction with coddling may cause her to suspect that she should be scared. I would also encourage you to point out the fun things you can't do if dd is scared of something. My dd went through a scared of flying bugs phase (after 3 years of poking at and playing with them) and I talked to her about not being able to go to the park since there would be little gnats on the slide and not being able to play in her pool since there are flying bugs outside for that to. We had to leave the park a few times and go back inside once before she decided that it wasn't worth being scared of flying bugs.

It sounds like she might be seeking out some attention through her fears. I don't mean that she is manipulative, I don't think young kids can manipulate, but just because she cries doesn't mean that she is not seeking attention. Crying is a very effective way to get attention and she knows that you will respond to it. I have found with dd that just because she is crying doesn't mean she is really sad or scared, she actually goes into the bathroom to work herself up by looking in the mirror and she gets a certain breathe and tone in her cries (a c-rated actress cry sound) before she gets into the actual tears. If I can distract her while she is trying to force herself into tears she will forget what she is doing and often if I offer to read to her or offer something else she likes she will stop cold turkey without any calm down period.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you so much for all of the responses. It makes me feel so much better to hear that a lot of this may just be a "normal" three-year old phase. I will definitely check out some of the books recommended. Several of my husband's family members (sisters/mom) have anxiety and/or panic disorders, so it's one of those things that I'm probably hypersensitive too as well. And the idea of talking with a therapist about this if I feel it's necessary is just brilliant. I don't know why it didn't even cross my mind.

Deb
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by radicalmama
umm...this might sound really "out there"...not even sure if I buy it myself...BUT since you asked...some people believe that intense fears are linked to past life events, particularly the way someone may have died...

Once when we were driving in Laguna Beach my very young son (who had no concept of time or years) said, this reminds me of when I was here in the seventies. A few minutes later as we drove up a hill near the ocean he freaked out crying and demanded that we stop, he said he was afraid we would die...

anyway, there is a book called Children's Past Lives you may want to look at..I feel weird just saying that...but the research in it is pretty interesting.

just a thought

I heard a story on Good Morning America just this week about this. A 2 yr old boy was waking at night due to nightmares about being shot down in a plane. At age 3, he explained that it was the Japanese that shot him down and could tell his mom the name of the pilot he supposedly used to be. Very weird stuff. If my DS came out with something like that and there was no other explaination, I'd have to believe it. Right now our only phobias are of getting haircuts and the swimming pool. The later fear was my fault because I let him get too far away from me in the shallow end of the pool and he ended up going under for just a second. He loved the pool before that.


Kim
 
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