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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Scaredy cat

For the past week or so, Robbie has been afraid.

I think it started when all three of the kids decided it would be fun to scare each other. They'd wait outside the bathroom or around the corner when they knew someone was headed for the family room or under the covers in the bedroom. Then, at just the right moment, they'd jump out and yell "Boo!" at the generally unsuspecting party. Although he was often on the receiving end of the scaring, Robbie dished up his own fair share of scare tactics as well.

Then late last week, they watched Batman vs. Dracula, a cartoon that I had chosen for instant streaming from Netflix. Usually, Robbie is fascinated by the topic of vampires. He's never seen Twilight or any of the sequels, but he asks Annie endless questions about them. But for some reason, Batman vs. Dracula scared the Bela Lagosi out of him.

Since then, he is afraid to go anywhere by himself. I'm not talking about going outside to play. I'm talking about going to a different room.

If I tell him to go upstairs to get his shoes, he can't because he's scared. If I ask him to get me a Diet Coke out of the garage fridge, he says its too dark in there. If I move to turn over while lying down with him at bedtime, he is instantly sitting up, asking where I'm going.

I'm trying to be sympathetic without being coddling. If he wants to go to the basement to play Legos but is afraid because it's too dark, I offer to stand at the top of the stairs and watch him as he turns the lights on. I've issued an edict that there is to be no more jumping out and scaring each other. If I'm in another room, he'll randomly call out my name. When I say "Yes, Robbie..." he says, "Oh, ok," as if he's just checking that I haven't left him alone in the house.

I feel bad for him. I also feel impatient, hoping this phase passes quickly and not entirely sure of how to help it along. So if you have any suggestions, I'm all ears.


Eternal Lizdom said...

Have you just asked him what he is afraid of? Maybe sitting down and having a conversation about what you are seeing and what he is feeling would help.

Or maybe he needs Dumbo's Feather. Or my brother's Brave Lion. Dumbo needed a feather to fly- even though he didn't really. That feather was a symbol of his confidence. When my brother was 4 or 5, he was going to have his tonsils out. He was very scared. The night before the surgery, I brought home a stuffed lion that I had dubbed "Brave Lion." I told him that Brave Lion was extra brave for the both of them and anytime he felt scared, he should just give Brave Lion a squeeze and he'd feel braver, too. My brother still talks about Brave Lion (and he's about to turn 21).

And I totally stole the brave lion idea from Full House. There was an episode where Stephanie was scared of the dentist and Joey told her she didn't have to be scared because in the back of her mouth... that little hangy down thing... that's her courage hangy ball. Ha! I adapted it to a much nicer, less gross scenario for my brother.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if it also has something to do with his SPD. JB will still get up to check on us at night and make sure we are there and ok. It is much less frequent than it used to be, but I know when there are any changes going on (new school year, start of summer break, new sitter, etc) her insecurities go way up. These are also times that she does more talking in her sleep, wants to sleep in our room (I now just keep a sleeping bag in the corner and she can get it out if she wakes up in the middle of the night and needs to be in our room - it has actually really decreased the amount of nights that she comes in), etc. Right now she is absolutely freaked about 3rd grade and the state mandate tests. Subsequently she does not want to go on sleep overs at ANYONE'S house, even her grandparents. It is heartbreaking to see. But I know once she gets her feet back under her and back on her routine she will be back to her "normal" self. Now that I have talked this through in your comment section, I will e-mail her OT therapist and see if she has any suggestions. JB graduated from OT a few months ago, but the therapist is wonderful and says that we can e-mail her at any time.
Hope things get better for him!

Tylaine said...

Dang that's a tough one. Talkings good. Give him some superhero powers!
Re to your comment:
Hopefully Idaho Falls won't have talking dogs or a crazy lunatic with guns
We'll just have to wait and see what happens I guess?

beth said...

Hey, Ame. Sounds like you're dealing with this phase perfectly. "Oh, ok" is a VERY good sign. This too shall pass. That is my diagnosis. :) (That will be $85, thank you.) hee

Sharon said...

Oh that's a hard phase.
Aidan went through it for a few weeks during the school year. In our tiny home, he would NOT go to the bathroom or his bedroom by himself. It was maddening! I could never be more than 20 feet away!
I don't know what triggered it in him, but I felt impatient, too.
I hope Robbie is feeling less afraid now (for both your sakes!)