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Major anxiety about new things

Discussion in 'Parents Off Topic' started by Charlotte'sMom, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. Charlotte'sMom

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    I took all three of my kids to the dentist this morning. Last year when I took the older two, Charlotte did great, so I wasn't worried about her. But she totally flipped out this time and wouldn't let them do xrays, wouldn't let them look in her mouth, or anything. She just cried. I tried bribing her with a trip to the dollar store-- which the boys earned-- but she did not.

    It's hard to not get annoyed when she acts this way. But then I worry if I'm being too hard on her, or if her emotions could be affected by fluctuating blood sugar. (which it wasn't today) But still, even after 2 1/2 years of regular trips to her endo, she's only recently being good for him. (as in, she'd hide under the chair and freak out if he touched her) She even flips out about new hair styles. She can be really shy around new people. One time at a friends' birthday party she was too shy to play the games and interact, and then as we were leaving she blurted, "but I did want to play the games!" I felt so bad for her, but by then it was too late as it was over.

    When she's just being shy, I try not to push her, but when it comes to doctors and dentists and I need her to be good, there's nothing I can do to get her to be compliant. Any advice? So far my "just be tough" approach has not helped. :( And preparing her in advance by explaining what's going to happen just gives her more time to freak out about something. I can accept that this is just part of her personality (I have stranger anxiety to some degree too) but I have yet to find anything that helps her.
     
  2. samheis

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    Sam started behaving exactly this way after diagnosis. Geez, down to the hiding under the table and refusing to talk. It's been 3.5 years now, and things are slowly getting better. I've tried a couple of different approaches, slowly learning what works for which situation.

    My son does better if he is prepared. We practice how procedures are going to be, I ask questions he might hear so he can practice how to respond. I try not to give an exact date, just that an appointment (or in our recent case, camp) is coming up. He'll ask questions out of the blue about worries (like if there will be shots, if he'll get any rewards afterwards:rolleyes:) This has worked great for doctors visits, and he's actually being a lot more cooperative and talking these last few appointment.

    He had a meltdown at the dentist recently, to the point we won't be going back to that guy, and I've figured out that I'm part of the problem in these situations. So at this new dentist, he will be walked back without me. Hoping that goes better. So for camp, I waited until the very last minute to say we were going, then really built up how many kids he would be with, highlighted that there is fishing, which he loves. Kept super positive driving there, to the point that he got right out of the car without crying or begging me to stay, and I drove off with out any big deal. Just a regular stop and grab :D


    This might sound strange, but I almost feel like he stopped trusting adults after being diagnosed. Sorry I can't help out much more, but know you aren't alone in dealing with this sort of anxiety in a child.
     
  3. Becky Stevens mom

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    Danielle, Steven used to be very, very much like that;) He used to panic about anything new, or anything loud or anything that he didnt care for at the moment. I had always thought him a high strung child even before diagnosis at age 3. He is very different from my older son who embraces new experiences and never seems fazed by it all. I got this really good book back then that I'd like to recommend

    http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Your-Spirited-Child-Perceptive/dp/0060923288

    Some kids are just wired differently I think. There level of being ok with new things is much lower. They will handle some things just fine but others, not so much. An example for you. When we used to go to Walmart when Steven was 3 or 4 he would have to cover his ears on the way out because he feared that the door alarm would go off and it would frighten him.

    Doctors and dentists and other healthcare professionals have to be used to all kinds of children. They should know by now that some kids are going to run into their arms and others are going to run out the door! and be able to handle that by taking their time. I wish you could have our pediatric dentist. He is so funny with the boys and goes very slow and speaks to them very softley. He even did 2 small fillings for Steven AND was able to give him novacaine without Steven knowing what he was doing. I was amazed!:eek:
     
  4. Lisa P.

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    Why does Charlotte say she is doing these things?

    Why do you think she's doing them?

    Do you think this is overall about fear or about control?

    How is her behavior during interactions that don't involve physical touch?

    Does she have sensory issues, like do tags inside shirts really bug her? If she gets a sock on inside out does it bug her like the princess with the pea?

    Does she behave the same with you in the room as when you are out? With you as with your husband?

    I have no real answers, but I figure if I ask a bunch of questions I'll demonstrate that I wish I did. . .:eek:
     
  5. Lisa P.

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    And I am absolutely not updating my avatar, no matter how cute your kid still is!!!!
     
  6. LJM

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    OK, you both have the cutest avatars ever...NO CONTEST.

    But on the topic: my DD hit this about age 3-4. Had to be papoosed at the dentist for one procedure. She is now 10 and it did pass at about 1st grade. She just had a tough time from 4-7; just a really intractable kid about a lot. We found that she needs help making transitions (give time, notice, etc.) and that she needed a lot of exercise (particularly water play was huge for her).

    We also had to be very firm with her and immensely consistent in most things. Seemed to help.
     
  7. Lisa P.

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    Thanks -- but Carter is very cute too. Or is that Phoebe?

    Sorry, derail over!
     
  8. StillMamamia

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    If I may, take a deep breath, continue to pre-prepare your kid for upcoming situations but not in the "Ok, there will be a new person/kids, so you don't need to be afraid" way, but in a more casual "Hey, tomorrow we'll be going to Dr. So-and-so, and then we can grab an ice-cream if all goes well." then end of convo.

    The more "casual" and normal you act, the better for you, at least, and the less chance you give your kid to start the panicky mode. IMO.

    I would wait and see for now, unless you see some other odd behaviour. I would start with trying to stress less, showing less anxiety myself, and seeing how that affects your kid's behavious. NOT saying it's your fault, but I know I'm the type who shows stress very easily - voice gets high-pitchy, I get hyperactive, etc - and my kids definitely pick up on that and somehow manage to add to the stress by showing their most stressful behaviour (to me, that is) at these times.

    Hope I made sense. Not trying to make light of your situation, but totally BTDT.
     
  9. DsMom

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    My son was a "screamer" at the dentist until only the past year or so...he is now 7. Unfortunately, dental care is not an option. We do go to a pediatric dentist (which you might consider if you are not already seeing one), and they are excellent and very experienced with this sort of thing. Daniel was always taken to one of the private exam rooms...with a door so the screaming was a little quieter for other patients:rolleyes:. I was in there with him...but could not do much but talk to him. He had to be examined...so I just had to endure the crying until it was over. He used to cry during haircuts as well.

    Thankfully, he has outgrown this and now sits with the other kids in the public area of the dentist's office (and he goes in all by himself) and he sits quietly and still during haircuts. I think part of his issues were related to his ADHD...he is now on medication for that...but part was just his age. Kids will often simply outgrow this behavior...and we sometimes just have to grimace and bear it for that difficult period.;) Good luck!
     
  10. emm142

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    I used to be like this. (Okay, okay.. I say used to be.. I still kinda am like this. :p)

    Being prepared in advance does help me to some extent. It didn't help me as a kid for someone to sit me down solemnly and get me more worked up about what was going to happen, but it did help for me to hear casually in conversation that X is happening on Wednesday, and to have events scheduled on the calendar.

    Having some kind of control always helped me too. I never had a problem with the dentist, but if I had done, probably being able to decide something like whether I went in before my brother or after him would have helped me.

    Bribes were never particularly useful to me, because it wasn't that I didn't want to do the thing and needed some kind of motivation to make me do it. Generally the problem was that I did really want to do whatever it was, but there was some kind of underlying fear there. Adding more motivation to do the thing kind of made it worse, because then I'd want to do it more but the overwhelming fear would still be there and I'd get more and the better the "good" thing got, the more angry with myself for not doing the "good" thing. When I was actually able to overcome my fear, the fact that I'd done what I really wanted made me really happy, so a bribe wasn't much necessary.

    If I had a child who behaved like me, my primary aim would be trying to understand exactly what was making her behave like that. When I was a young kid I had major bathroom anxiety, in that I was scared of going places in case I would have to pee and I wouldn't know where the bathroom was or I'd have to ask someone. People used to get really frustrated with me because it meant that I was really scared of going anywhere, but once they realised exactly what my problem was, the solution was as simple as identifying where the bathroom was in places that we were visiting, and I was fine.

    When I was a slightly older kid I stopped doing a lot of the things that I had used to enjoy - going to my friends' houses and going to Brownies (a girls' social group thing). My parents got really frustrated with me, but eventually managed to get it out of me that what I was scared of was sleeping in a house or a room with people who I didn't know or weren't in my family. Now, of all the times that I went to a friend's house maybe 1 in 1000 I'd be asked on a surprise sleepover and with Brownies there was no obligation to go on camp, but I felt like I couldn't go to Brownies unless I went on camp. However, that very remote feeling like I might possibly end up having to sleep somewhere with people who I wasn't comfortable with was enough to stop me doing things which probably would very rarely have resulted in the "scary" outcome anyway. Constant reassurance that I would never be forced to stay anywhere I didn't want to meant that eventually I was comfortable going places during the day again, but it took some time for my parents to discover the root cause of my anxiety, since it wasn't directly linked to the things I was avoiding.

    So.. your daughter's situation might be completely different to mine, but you might be able to glean something from my experience. I think the most important thing is to know that whatever is causing her anxiety is not necessarily the most obvious thing that springs to mind.
     
  11. Charlotte'sMom

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    Hey, when you start asking a lot of questions, it at least gets me thinking.

    I'm not sure if it's a fear or control thing. I'd say it depends on the issue. For example, at the dentist she was happy as a clam in the waiting room, never expressed any concern about going in. But as soon as they asked her to sit in the seat for her xrays, she freaked out. In that case, I wonder if it's more of a control thing since she wasn't nervous about it going in. When she throws her fits at the endo, sometimes I think I think I see a smirk on her face. But then at the birthday party, I could tell she really, really wanted to play the games, she just couldn't work up the courage. When they started coloring, she was insistent she sit by the only other 2 girls that she knew, but was still very clingy. It seemed more like genuine fear.

    It's the same with or without physical touch. If someone she doesn't know just tries to talk to her, she buries her head into me. While she's comfortable now with her primary class at church, if we attend a different ward (congregation) she won't go in. Just this last weekend we went to my grandfather's funeral and she didn't want to go (not that I gave her a choice) because "there would be lots of people there." Nevermind most of them she knows already.

    I'm going to have to pay more attention to her behavior with me and my husband. I think she may do it more for me though.
     
  12. Charlotte'sMom

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    Becky, thanks for the book recommendation. I'll look into that. I think there was a switch that went off at some point for Charlotte. We started putting her into the church nursery at 12 months, and she never once cried or even looked back. At her diagnosis at 23 months, it was adorable the way she wandered around, with the IV trailing behind her, talking to all the nurses and being so social. Even her first couple endo appointments were fine. She was such an outgoing, social toddler. And then suddenly she started freaking out about the endo (who is a super nice, non-touchy guy) and then she started freaking out about doctors or other appointments in general. When new people talk to her she won't even make eye contact with them. It's just weird.

    Oh, I'm all about casual. I'm pretty sure I am anyway. In fact, my husband says that one reason he fell in love with me was because I was totally unfazed when I totaled my car. I've learned that freaking out doesn't help anything, so I don't usually. ;)

    DsMom, we are going to a pediatric dentist. But her freak out began as soon as they asked her to sit in the xray chair. The poor dentist never had a chance.
     
  13. Charlotte'sMom

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    Emma, thank you so much for your post! It's been very insightful. In fact, I think I'm going to print it off and put in on my fridge as a reminder when I'm trying to figure her out. ;) I try bribes she's acting that way, and they don't usually work for her. But hearing it from your point of view makes a lot of sense about why they don't.

    It sounds like I need to start asking more questions about why she's acting the way she does. Hopefully she'll open up.
     
  14. Charlotte'sMom

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    double post
     
  15. DsMom

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    Yeah, Daniel was always okay in the waiting room, too--and his crying always started way before the dentist saw him too...as soon as he was in the exam chair...we had to skip x-rays a couple of times because it was so bad. But the hygienists are excellent and patient...and I think that is what ultimately proved to Daniel that he would be okay with them.

    Daniel doesn't have the social anxiety you seem to be describing...but I sure did growing up. I was what I'd call pathologically shy...terrified to be spoken to by strangers or even to answer questions in school. It did ease once I reached adulthood...but I am still definitely shy. I do wish my parents had helped me with it as a child. If you see it continuing or being a big obstacle in her life...I would seek some sort of counseling for her sake. Lots and lots of kids grow out of this type of shyness...but I never did.

    Not sure if I remember the age of your daughter...is she 4? If yes, is she in preschool?? If not, that could be of great help in getting her to separate from you and start to get used to being with new people again. If she is already in preschool...how does she act there?? (Sorry if you already mentioned this...I have zero memory anymore!)
     
  16. Charlotte'sMom

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    I got thinking last night about whether Charlotte does this more with me than with DH and came to a startling conclusion. Because of diabetes, Charlotte is hardly ever NOT with me. And if she isn't with me, she's with aunts and cousins or grandparents who she knows. DH never takes her to dr appts or to "new" things because he works, so it's only me. DH says she does act shy with him, but he's never seen these meltdowns.

    Charlotte is 4 and will be going to preschool this fall. She's very excited about going, but I do anticipate a rough first few days. Then again, she could surprise me.
     
  17. LJM

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    Actually my avatar is the dog, Holly. But the kids are cute too.
     
  18. Charlotte'sMom

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    You two have me totally confused. :confused: :eek: :cool:
     
  19. LJM

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    Sorry, Danielle--off topic.
     
  20. Charlotte'sMom

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    No worries. Just trying to figure out the joke. I thought maybe you had just changed your profile pic after Lisa commented, but I thought the dog pic looked familiar.
     

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