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28 September 2012 @ 11:15 pm
New things are scary...  
"If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try." - Seth Godin

I sat on my sister's bebes last night and, after E had been put down, A wanted a movie. However, the movie he wanted was in the basement, which for some reason terrifies him. His momma has set up a nice little man cave with a TV and toys and even a mini fridge with snackies - no dice. He won't stay down there alone more than a minute or two so he would not just go get the movie himself.

I am not really a fan of this afraid-of-the-basement nonsense or some of his other weird habits, so I told him fine, I would go with him... but only if we went down with the lights off. I have a little flashlight on my phone, so I told him "look! it will be an adventure! I'm not scared at all!" He looked dubious, but agreed. We went downstairs and found the video he wanted and he seemed to be doing just fine as long as I was with him... But then, before I agreed to return upstairs, I was the worst aunt ever. I had him hold my hand and I calmly told him I was going to turn off the light. I switched it off and then asked him what was so scary. At first he said the blue light was scary - so we went and looked and it was the light on the router. Then he said a noise was scary - so we went and looked and it was the toilet running. At that point, he actually seemed to be getting a little concerned and wanting to go back upstairs, so I turned the flashlight back on, and showed him how to make shadow puppets. He enjoyed that for about five minutes, but when he got ansty again, we went back upstairs. No tears, no drama. I doubt the one time "adventure" will fix his issue, but hopefully it was good for him... 
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DameJ: Moaidamej on September 29th, 2012 02:59 pm (UTC)
My ex-aunt used to use the term "room noodles" for the odd little noises that all houses make. At the time, they lived in an old, creaky house out in the country. My young cousins, whenever hearing a mysterious noise, would matter-of-factly explain to me "those are just room noodles."
Doug Hulick / Simon Morcarswords_and_pens on September 29th, 2012 04:45 pm (UTC)
Room noodles = Awesome. :D
eithni: darkladyeithni on September 29th, 2012 07:16 pm (UTC)
Nice. I'll have to introduce that term.
jtdiii: Biojtdiii on September 29th, 2012 03:14 pm (UTC)
I always liked the approach Susan took in "The Hogfather" by Terry Pratchett. The monsters were afraid of her. :) and the fireplace poker...
eithni: darkladyeithni on September 29th, 2012 07:17 pm (UTC)
Well, little man is already violent enough, so I think we'll pass on that tactic. :P
Doug Hulick / Simon Morcarswords_and_pens on September 29th, 2012 04:45 pm (UTC)
How old is he? Unreasonable fears are part of the package at certain ages. What seems like an issue or hurdle or failing to us is something they don't even remember once its passed. More often than not, the kids work the issues out themselves when they are ready. And they all do it at different points & in different ways. When I look back at the number of things I was upset about with E & C that are no longer an issue, I'm still amazed.

That said, I think you approached it the right way: helping him push his boundaries in a safe, reassuring way, all the while telling him what was coming next (some people would have just turned the flashlight off which, no--bad idea). It can also help to have someone who is not mom or dad helping with those boundaries, since there is less pressure and anxiety to perform on the kiddo's part. There are things other people have gotten my kids to do that I could never have imagined accomplishing myself.

So, good job. Just don't let his foibles get to you: it happens with every kid. :)
eithni: darkladyeithni on September 29th, 2012 07:29 pm (UTC)
He's four, so parts of it are indeed age-appropriate. The thing is that a lot of it seems to be either acting out due to a new sibling or that he has figured out his momma is less likely to make him do things he is "afraid of" than things he just doesn't want to do. Some of the expressed fears are pretty normal (the dark, spiders, etc.) while others are bizarre (suddenly being "afraid of" the bathroom or the budgies) and others are clear attempts to get out of something (being "afraid of" a vegetable). I don't want to traumatize the kid, but he can't go through life being "afraid of" houseflies and picking up his toys. :P

So, yeah, we're going to keep pushing those boundaries with him. Like today - we went to a science day on campus and he REALLY wanted to see the bugs and he SAID he wanted to hold one, until we got too close. Then he was freaked out by the walking stick and giant hissing cockroaches. I didn't make him hold them, but I did make him come and look at them really close while I let them crawl up my arm. By pointing out physical features and telling him about the bugs, he crept closer and closer to see what I was pointing at. I tried to get him to hold one at the end and still no dice, so I didn't push it, but then later he was very excited telling his momma about the HUUUUUGE bugs. So, baby steps, but persistent ones.
Albredaalbreda on September 29th, 2012 05:19 pm (UTC)
Excellent aunting! (and yes, I do consider that a verb!)
eithni: darkladyeithni on September 29th, 2012 07:31 pm (UTC)
Heh. Almost anything can be a verb if it is undertaken with enough enthusiasm.
Aaron (Rusty) Lloydrustmon on September 30th, 2012 12:03 am (UTC)
Cool good way for him to try something new in a good, caring way. Nice. :)
angry_scotsman: Zombieangry_scotsman on September 30th, 2012 01:26 am (UTC)
I was weirded out by the laundry room in the basement of the house I lived in from ages 6-18.

I could hang out in the family room as well as the game room, both of which were in the basement. However the base of the stairs was right at the entrance to the laundry room and there was persisting apprehension passing by that portal.

As a preteen, I wouldn't be in the room alone. As a teen I wouldn't be in the room without every single light turned on, and then only to address a specific short task.
eithni: darkladyeithni on September 30th, 2012 09:43 pm (UTC)
Heh. The laundry room in my house in Bayview freaked me out a little, but I maintain that was reasonable - years later, my momma admitted that it had creeped her out to be down there too. It was an old, old house and if not precisely haunted, had some... psychologically troubling spots.

If the basement was his only issue, if it were the least bit scary (it's fully finished, lighted, carpeted, etc), or had any psychic ickiness (I believe in ghosts and hauntings and such and am pretty sensitive to those sorts of things, despite my scientificly-minded temperment), I'd cut the kid some slack. Since "I'm scared" is sort of his default excuse, I'm somewhat less sympathetic. :P
corvusjoyous: crowcorvusjoyous on September 30th, 2012 01:36 am (UTC)
Awesome. You are SO allowed and encouraged to similarly influence our future child.
It makes my heart go squee to see good parenting. (and yes, I consider it parenting even if it isn't your direct physical spawn.)
eithni: darkladyeithni on September 30th, 2012 09:43 pm (UTC)
:) It takes a village and all that... and everyone needs an Evil Aunti Eithni.