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Child Behavior Forum
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Avatar universal

My son's fears

Dear doctor

My son is 4.5 year old, recently developed a fear of a particular thing....A cut-out dinosaur figure in a movie theatre (the on that advertises Ice Age 3) - this weekend was the third time when he claimed that he wanted to go to the movies and we were getting ready to go, but then he started to ask me about the "dinosaur poster" and whether it was going to be there...I said that I did not know, he kept asking, and finally refused to go....Last time we almost made it to the movie, no dinosaur in sight, we walked toward the auditorium, but right next to the entrance to "our" auditorium, there it was, with mouth wide open and great big sharp teeth.....He is really not scared of monsters/dark/anything in particular other than dogs that jump on him, and, now, dinosaurs.....He also absolutely hates when somebody dressed up as a dinosaur.....And recently got scared of a fireman when he put his mask on ans started breathing into it.......I wonder as to what to do about the movie thing - he want to go but he cant because of that dinosaur thing.....I have to admit it is pretty large and intimidating.....I want him to learn to deal with his fears though.......Should we just hold off with the movies and rent? I suspect the whole movie experience may be too overwhelming for his nervous system......

Thank you in advance for your input
8 Responses
242606 tn?1243782648
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Yes, defintiely hold off. There's no need to push this. He is displaying an absolutely normal fear at his age. He needs to be protected from this for now. Over time the fear will subside and he'll be fine.
Avatar universal
I agree...
I have another question about fear of dogs....
My monther in law beleives that we should expose him to the object of fear and that he is too timid.....So far her "therapies" did not work - I recently found out that while my son was staying with her on a weekend, she forced her dogs on him (I have to say that dogs are very undisciplined and jump on everyone) and held him down so he interacts wth the dogs - I am not sure what to do - she gets all teary-eyed because my son wants nothing to do with her beloved dogs...he is ok with them as long as they do not bother him....He was even playing with one of them when she had only one; now she has a puppy and they get a little rough with each other; my son does not like it at all.
I wonder what we should do/not do to deal with his fear of dogs....I am not exactly a dog lover either....

We just got him a cat, and while he was apprehensive of it at first (when it jumped) - now he totes this cat around and plays with it, and plays chase games, pulls the tail, feeds it, and cat actually loves it all.....It just took two weeks of gradual exposure on his terms, and now he cannot take his hands off this cat, he is very nurturing and patient.....He never was afraid of cats though, I think with dogs it is their barking that bothers him the most.....

We do not have any friends/family with well behaved dogs/gentle dogs.....

I am  not sure whether we shoud get him a puppy as there is no such thing as well-behaved/gentle puppy.......He shows interest in dogs/likes to look at them when they walk/sit in the car, but mostly when they are contained in some manner (leash, car, etc...)


Thank you in advance for your input:)

I want him to be comfortable with dogs as there are many people who own them in our area


242606 tn?1243782648
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
My advice is to let him be - he's fine. 'Forcing' him to interact with the dogs, the way his grandmother did, is not a very sensitive thing to do. She was paying more attention to how she would like him to be than to how he really is. Please don't make the same mistake his grandmother did.
Avatar universal
Thank you doc

I am not a dog lover myself anyway, so I have no problem with not pushing dogs on him...
It is that my husbands' side of a family make a huge deal out of it, like it is something "abnormal"

So - what would be a right thing to do - ask her to contain the dogs when we visit (if shedoes not, they jump)? She went as far as crying over the phone and saying that she will leave dogs with her neighbour while we come over. She claims that they are traumatized if she contains them behind a barrier (and I am not talking for the entire visit - initially - not to have them jump on us when we just arrive). Are there any resources I can reccomend for her to read about childhood fears? Or importance of gradual introduction and not forcing dogs onto my son? I want them to get along, and I want my son to enjoy visits to grandma - with all her quirks, she is lots of fun adn I love her very much. Just does not have much insight when it comes to child-rearing (let her 9 and 10 year old sons watch Exorcist back in a day......) and really gets out of sorts when you give her advice....... I Maybe I will get her a dog-training lessons for Christmas...I dunno....I am just venting here

I am not from here originally, and in my home country, when somebody does not want to interact/scared of a dog, especially a child, that is perfectly fine. Dog gets removed from the area

Here evven when I jog and peoples' pooches jump on me, people fail to contain them and say - "oh he is a sweet doggie, he is fine"......Or - dogs roam free on a playground....

I will not make this mistake for sure. It is just gets to me when she dubbs his fear a "phobia" and makes example of "sweet neighbours' children" that love her dogs.... I've observed her recently interacting with other children of his age - same thing, she wants things her way and acts like a 4 year old herself when she does not get things her way....recently she refused to give a little girl a desert and ate it in front of her on purpose - all because the girl refused to go to the deep end of the pool with her......That is mean.

242606 tn?1243782648
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
If she is willing to have the dogs be at the neighbor's, that's fine. Otherwise, just let the dogs do what they do, just don't force your son to act in any particular way toward them.
Avatar universal
The problem is that they jump on him and he is terrified:(
242606 tn?1243782648
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
As long as his grandmother is OK, even reluctantly, to have the dogs elsewhere, that is best. Hopefully she will pay more attention to your son's needs than to the dogs' presence. If she insists, for now keep your son away and have contact with his grandmother at your house or some other spot without the dogs. There's no point terrifying him.
Avatar universal
Interesting update......Grandma did as told...Did not push them onto him. Put them behind a barrier..My son expressed a desire to take dogs for a walk (very surprising), but wanted to sit on my sholders. So we did that. All the sudden he wanted to come down. Dogs were on leashes. He started to chase the dogs!!! and dogs started to chase him and he was laughing and having a ball......Then he claimed that one of the dogs (a calm one) was "his" dog and he wanted to walk it. So he walked the dog and even said that he "loves dogs"......

That is soooo strange......Hopefully, grandma got a point of not pushing anything onto him and him learning and coping on his terms and in his own pace:) Thank you for your advice  
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