Handling toddler fears

21 Jun

Jenna has always been a little hesitant about trying new things and fearful about venturing out on her own. Recently, she’s latched on to the word “scary” and is prone to pronouncing that many things meet that definition. If we try to casually explain that something is NOT scary, she emphatically insists, “Yeah! SCARY!” – there’s just no reasoning with her once she’s decided something fits in the category. I was so excited when we were in Atlanta and we visited several playgrounds. She ventured out further than she ever had before. I watched her study other, older kids playing on the equipment, and then, without a backward glance, she conquered ladders, climbing walls, slides and equipment that I never dreamed she’d try. She was so brave, and I thought we’d turned a corner. Within days, she fell down two steps to a concrete patio and broke her arm. Since then, we’re back to square one – – or maybe even further back. Is there a negative one on the scale?? She’s just starting to do the stairs at home alone again, and she’s still more likely to sit and “scoot” down than to walk down like she used to.

We started having problems of unknown origin at bedtime. After much discussion with Jenna and efforts to unravel the mystery, she informed us, “The ceiling is scary.” That’s all we got. No idea WHY it’s scary, but at least it’s something to work with. We considered the stick-on, glow-in-the-dark stars that attach to the ceiling, but were a little afraid that they might not stick well and could fall around the room or onto her head, thus firmly CEMENTING her fear of the ceiling. Instead, we opted for a “Twilight Ladybug.” It’s battery operated and has multitudes of holes in the shell on her back that project the stars and the moon onto the ceiling (in 3 color choices) when its turned on. It automatically shuts off after 45 minutes. The product info states:

For interactive fun, parents can also sit with their children and identify and describe the features of seven major constellations, including the Big Dipper and Pegasus, with the help of the beautifully illustrated Star Guide. The Twilight Ladybug also includes a sweet and charming story about how Twilight Ladybug, separated from his father, uses the constellations to find his way home.

The pros are that Jenna loves the bug, it does seem to help with the fear factor, and it was a relatively easy “fix” for the problem. The one major “con” that bears mentioning is that, even though the automatic turnoff is nice for battery conservation, we frequently get called back in because “Ladybug turned off!” Maybe a remote control would be nice that you could click from another room to turn the thing back on…… We haven’t traveled since this phase began either, but I’m assuming that Ladybug is yet another item we’ll need to drag along until the phase ends. I’m not big on creating dependence on an external device for sleep, but when sleep is the issue, it doesn’t take long until I’m ready to resort to desperate measures.

Twilight Ladybug via Twilight Ladybug

We’re trying to be sensitive to her somewhat healthy fears, but not “baby” her into too much dependence or reinforce her fears. It’s very hard to find the balance. Recently, I’ve become aware of how often I use the phrase, “Be careful” with her. I think I became a little more fearful after her accident too, and have possibly been inadvertently feeding her fears. Since coming to this realization, I’ve been biting my tongue whenever I feel the words creeping up. I’m also really working on encouraging her to try it on her own first when she asks me for help. She’s a little prone to asking for help before trying, and I’m a little prone to immediately going to help before letting her try.

Am I more protective because of her medical issues and everything we’ve gone through with her in the past? Perhaps, but I have to confess that I just tend to be a worrier. Between my husband and I, I win the “worry competition” hands-down. He’s always more laid back and relaxed while I’m the planner who’s brain is constantly forming Plan B, C and D, just in case a swarm of locusts or other unknown plague descends upon us. It’s not my favorite quality in myself, and I’d rather not pass it along to Jenna. I comfort myself with the fact that I’m aware of the issue and I’m consciously trying to work on it.

What are some “fear issues” for your kids and how do you deal with them? Share your advice (or frustrations) in the comments section

In the meantime, here’s a fun book for all the worriers out there:

Wemberly WorriedWemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

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Posted by on June 21, 2008 in Jenna, Product Reviews


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