My 5 year old daughter is prone to "irrational" fears. I say irrational in quotes because they seem so only to me (not to her).

(Before I go much further though, I want to say that my daughter is a normal girl that plays well with friends and interacts well with others.)

Her fears center mostly around things she sees on TV even though we are careful about what she watches. Other fears she has are explainable normal fears (to me at least.) Two examples of her "irrational" fears:

  1. In the beginning of "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" (which she watched with a baby sitter w/o approval), the main guy invents spray on shoes that he cannot remove. This tormented my daughter for several weeks. She would come to us in tears saying that she could not stop thinking about it.

  2. The new movie by Disney called "Sorcerer's Apprentice" apparently has a preview scene shown on TV where some mops/brooms attack. This is the most recent item to be bugging her (though it has not driven her to tears thankfully).

Every time she mentions her fears we acknowledge them and are sympathetic. We try to explain that the situation she saw on TV was not "real" and could never happen to her. We then usually try to distract her from thinking about whatever is bothering her.

However this does not prevent her from obsessing about these things again later.

She eventually does "get over" what ever is bugging her and is fine till a new thing comes up. But I am worried that this obsessing that she is doing is not normal/is harmful.

Do I need to be worried? What can I do differently?

asked 18 Jul '10, 05:58

Vaccano's gravatar image

accept rate: 33%

Would I be correct in guessing that your daughter is a little bit sensative and has a really great imagination?

Yeah, I thought so.

This is so completely totally normal for a kid with that kind of temperament in my experience. I was like that, so was my second oldest son and my three year old daughter seems to be well on her way.

Dude, I got the crap scared out of me when I was six for weeks by the episode of "Gilligan's Island" with the vampires. Gilligan's Island. Really. My poor Mother. I still don't watch horror movies, I do not need that stuff roaming around in my head, and either does my son for the same reason!

My son refused to be in our basement or on the second floor of our house alone until he was about 12. He was afraid there were ghosts in the house. He never saw or heard anything, he just worried that there might be. Fortunately he shared a bedroom with his older brother or I don't know how I'd have gotten him to bed at night.

One thing that helped him with the kind of transient fears and worries,and a lot of it is more worry than fear, kids with this temperament tend to be very deeply empathtic, which is great, except it means they worry about fictional characters, anyway, what helped him was learning "to change the movie in his head". He picked a favorite memory of playing with his cousins at the beach and would think about that instead. If he was having trouble he'd come to me, tell me what was scaring him, and we'd talk about his memory, what the weather was like that day, how the water felt, the sand castle they'd been building, the frogs they caught, the hugh garter-snake his older cousin carried right into the cottage before being sent straight back out my his Mom and Nanna. Usually he'd start giggling and forget all about whatever was frightening him. (Also known as learning to self-distract.)

I know that what always helped me was when nobody made fun of me for being scared of silly things, or worrying about people who weren't real. When they acknowledged my fear, and then made me feel safe so I could move past it. Which sounds like exactly what you're doing. Good for you, we don't have to understand why they're scared, we just have to deal with it calmly and help them with ways to deal with their emotions until they're old enough to censor the images and information they let into their thoughts themselves.

And if she gets scared by something that you let her watch on TV that you thought would be perfectly fine, don't beat yourself up, sometimes there's just no way to know.

(The permanent shoes? Really? I'd never have seen that one coming. But the jello house later in that movie would have freaked me right the heck out when I was five.)


answered 18 Jul '10, 07:09

Neen's gravatar image

accept rate: 30%

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Asked: 18 Jul '10, 05:58

Seen: 5,428 times

Last updated: 18 Jul '10, 07:09