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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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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.