Childhood fears: advice needed

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Last night just before bedtime, C burst out crying suddenly for no apparent reason. Worried, both of us (my husband and I) asked her what the matter was. “Mummy, please don’t throw me into the sea! I don’t want to die!”

Shocked, both of us asked her what happened. She only cried and shook her head. I could only hug and reassure her until her sobs subsided.

Me: “Who told you that they will throw you into the sea?”
C: “No one. I don’t want to die!”
Me: “Did you watch any shows on tv?”
C: “No.”
Me: “Don’t worry mummy will protect you. Why would you die at sea? You can swim, right?”
C: “Because there is a lot of salt in the water. I will die if I fall into the sea and I drank the seawater!”

I literally saw the lightbulb switching on in my head. She must have heard something during science class yesterday. My guess is that her teacher mentioned that sea water is not potable due to its high sodium (salt) content. The poor little girl heard “sea”, “salt”, “die” and linked the the facts together.

While some may find this funny, I was concerned. This fear was obviously very real to her. Imagine a 5year old thinking about dying at sea? It seems that her fears are linked to natural disasters -she has similar worries about earthquakes and floods. I’ve no problems about the boogeyman though(she tells me matter-of-factly that he doesn’t exist).

I’ve explained that earthquakes do not occur in Singapore due to our geographical location and that floods do subside after a while (she asks each time it rains heavily). As for the sea, well, I’ve reminded her that the last time she was at the beach she had a good time in the water, and that she survived. Eventually she was pacified after I told her that we will all protect her from harm, but I’m sure that the same issue will crop up again.

I need some advice. For fear of the dark, and creatures of the imagination, I can deal with. However, in this case I cannot simply say that these issues don’t exist, nor that people don’t die from natural disasters. Factual explanations on how we can prepare ourselves for such incidents don’t help either.

Have you encountered this situation? How would you deal with the issue?

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15 thoughts on “Childhood fears: advice needed

  1. Valerie

    My son went through fears when he was younger too. And they were real fears, like your daughter’s. Choking, car crashes, etc. I dealt with them by talking. A lot. And he would still go on and on as if I hadn’t just explained anything! It was of no comfort to him for me to talk even though he seemed to “want” me to. So, I changed my tactic – I responded with care and concern for him (that he was feeling scared), and then as briefly as possible I would say something comforting. An example might be, “Yes, car crashes are scary but mommy and daddy are careful to drive as safely as we can.” Things slowly but surely improved and he was scared less.
    *hugs* I know how hard it is to see your child dealing with fear. ā¤

    Reply
  2. lakenormanprep

    Thanks for checking out my blog. I have one kiddo with fears like this. My biggest obstacle is keeping him from the news-it is everywhere! I did not speak to my kids of sandyhook but when they went to a local nature center they noticed the flag at half staff. They made the comment aloud and a man next to them told them the whole story (unfortunately, I was in the restroom at this time). I completely agree with Valerie above. We acknowledge the fears, state that these things are scary but that it is important that we focus on the present moment in which we are safe and happy. And give lots of hugs. šŸ™‚ It is tough. I hate that kids feel that worry. I know in time they will need to know all that goes on in the world but for right now the concept of something happening on another continent doesn’t sink in. We can go over the globe again and again but to them it is so very close to home.

    Reply
    1. mummyshymz Post author

      Yes I agree. C is too young to know about the tragedy at sandy hook (I can’t imagine how I would explain that to her!) I feel that kids are forced to grow up faster, but they are not ready to deal with the emotions yet.

      Reply
  3. Zee

    Now, this is a tricky one! I have to say that kids these days seem to be more aware of what’s happening out there in the world. There’s a lot more knowledge and perhaps that translates into more fears. I don’t remember being scared of such things when I was younger! It was the usual fear of the dark, fear of monsters and fear of thunder. But the best you can do I think is to comfort her and assure her that you will always be there to protect her. Poor girl! And I can imagine you must have been heartbroken.

    Reply
    1. mummyshymz Post author

      Yes, exactly. I think in our times we still had a real childhood. She had plenty of hugs and kisses (also a brownie today, her comfort food). All I can say is that I felt terrible and kind of helpless last night…

      Reply
  4. thehomeschoolmomblog

    Comfort seems to be one of the best remedies around. Distraction also helps as well, it helps the child move past the emotion of fear and focus on something more positive. My husband and I have always made a point of praying with our children as well.

    Reply
  5. BeWithUs

    Children have wondrous amount of imagination, especially today’s and that is why at times we need to be really careful with the words used (especially those negative ones) because we don’t really know what they might link those words to… thanks for sharing~ Cheers! šŸ˜€

    Reply
    1. mummyshymz Post author

      I agree. They are more aware of what is going on around them, and are listening carefully to what we are saying. So we need to watch the way we communicate šŸ™‚

      Reply

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