Advice on reducing her fear of neighbour?

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littleangel
DoppleMe

Hi all,

Got a bit of tricky one and could do with some advice. We have a lady who has moved on our road who is mentally ill I believe. She walks around shouting to herself and doing some rather odd things. She also has a physical impairment which means her body is quite twisted makes her walk funny.

I have always brought my daughter up not to discriminate anybody and to embrace difference but she is absolutely terrified of this woman. I feel very embarrassed and dont quite know how to adress this. My daughter is so scared that she wont play out as this lady will often approach the children and try and engage them in conversations of which they dont understand. I dont feel this lady is of any harm to anyone and i feel quite sorry for her situation. I tried to approach her with my daughter to try and show my daughter she is harmless but my daughter literally freaked out. All the other children on the road are quite comfortable with this lady and actually find her quite entertaining but my little girl is now having nightmares about her and causes quite a scene when we see her if we are out and about.

Anyone have any advice how I can tackle this as I really dont want my daughter to be scared of people who are ill like this and I find her public shows of terror quite embarrasing but have no clue what to do about it?

Posted on: May 28, 2012 - 8:34pm
littleredhen
DoppleMe

I had the same problem with my youngest - she used to go to a toddler group and a child joined who was severly disabled - she used to cry out a lot and was in a wheel chair - she was very big (about 10) One day she grabbed at my daughter and from that day she became fearful of people who were "different".  I went to the doctors because i felt it was in danger of becoming a phobia.  The doctor saw my daughter a few times and talked over the anxiety - just things like how do you feel when you see people like that - what happens in your body etc - over a few weeks she learned to cope but even now she still gets worried by "different" people - I hope I dont offend anyone when i say different because included in that I mean even people who are drunk or shouting out, people who are disabled it covers a whole range of possibilities and I have also brought my daughter up to respect others and we talk about why some people are made differently and how things might be for them.

Hope that is of some use to you

Posted on: May 29, 2012 - 6:47am
Louise
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

Hi little angel

Well you have tried the thing I was going to suggest first, which is for you to be friendly and respectful to the lady in your daughter's presence. I wonder if your daughter is prone to these anxieties (remember Mary Blue?) That doe not mean there is anything "wrong" with her; often a particularly imaginative child is more prone to fears, for example.

Of course you can talk with your daughter about how she feels, and the physical effects of anxiety, that was a great suggestion from LRH. The other thing you might like to consider is a book or two about people who are "different" to her.

Here is a lovely book about siblings understanding their brother has autism and that he behaves differently as a result. of course this is different to your neighbour but it would be a great springboard for discussing diversity. This one here is more general and helps children to realise we are all different and teaches them to respect those differences. I know you have already done that with your parenting, little angel, but I am a firm believer in books reinforcing messages for children. The new copies are expensive but there are some second hand ones which are cheap and will be just as good.

Posted on: May 29, 2012 - 7:53am
littleangel
DoppleMe

Thanks for suggestions guys x

LRH my little un also is scared of anyone drunk, I can kind of deal with that as i dont really allow drunk people to approach her anyway but obviously people who are disabled/poorly its a bit more awkward and goes against how I am trying to teach her. i spoke to my mum about it last night and she reminded me of my best friend when I was 7, he was mauled by a dog and his face became disfugured, my mum said I wouldnt go near him or play with him for weeks and weeks afterwards. Her way of dealing with it at the time was to basically drag me to his house and shout at me not to be so silly....Hmmm that not gonna work here.

Louise thanks for those suggestions I will look at those books because she really is quite affected by that woman at the moment. Unfortunately little angel is very prone to anxiety (guilty-parent-syndrome alert!) and I believe that is because a) I am very anxious (although I try to hide it) and b) she was born in to a world of violence being done to her mummy and although she was only two when I finally escaped I can see very clearly the impact DV had on her.  I feel truly awful when i see how terrified she gets if just two random people in the street raise their voices at each other. This is a work in progress at the moment....

Posted on: May 29, 2012 - 4:48pm
littleredhen
DoppleMe

hi again - the reason i suggested the doctors was that she was brilliant with talking to my youngest - she couldn't have been more than 5 at the time - we saw her over about 4 weeks - once a week and it was very low key but she talked to her about how she felt - what was happening to her body when she saw people she was worried about etc and asked her to try some techniques - it was really good - much better than coming from me!

Having said that, the last two times we have been on the bus we have had drunk people and the first time we got off the bus because she didn't want me to go and speak to the driver - the second time we moved downstairs but it is that fight or flight mechanism which is meant to protect us when we are in danger - its just getting her to recognise how she feels and how to deal with it - good luck

Posted on: May 29, 2012 - 5:26pm
littleangel
DoppleMe

Cheers LRH I will make appt with doc as my doc is very good with me and she has a lot more history which will probably help her in dealing with little angel - who is normally very shy.

Posted on: May 29, 2012 - 6:48pm
Louise
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

Just a word of reassurance....my youngest was badly affected by conflict between his father and me when he was very small (baby to age of three) and as he grew up I noticed that every time there was a disagreement between me and eldest, youngest would say "now come on everyone let's calm down" and I talked with him and explained that I thought he had a fear of conflict, and why (this was when he was about 10) and since then have pointed out when it has happened and as he got older have said to him that he needs to learn that people disagreeing does not equal danger, and that people in good, strong relationships can disagree and everything is still Ok. He has grown up very balanced and lost his fear of conflict.

Posted on: May 29, 2012 - 6:56pm
littleangel
DoppleMe

Thats really good to hear. I am hoping little angel will out grow her anxieties although if the court grants her more contact with her dad Im not sure that can happen. But hopefully with lots of reassurance and love she will get through it x

Posted on: May 30, 2012 - 7:41am
Anna
Online
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

Hi littleangel, I wonder if you could ask your little angel, how she thinks the woman feels? Trying on her shoes might make your daughter consider how scary it must be to be her?

When my friends son was about 3, we were at the beach and a coachload of children with Downs Syndrome arrived, my son's freaked out and jumped into my arms and clung on for dear life. You will be pleased to hear that now at aged 17 he works with the elderly!

Posted on: May 30, 2012 - 5:14pm
littleangel
DoppleMe

Thanks Anna, Ill try that with her and see what comes of it.

You must have been mortified when your sons did that lol I think the fact that unless your children have family members who have disbilities then they are more likely to freak out because it is so unfamiliar. Perhaps schools should look in to doing some projects with schools for children with special needs etc, that way children will get chance to mingle with children that they are normally segregated from.

Posted on: May 30, 2012 - 5:41pm
Anna
Online
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

What a brilliant idea littleangel getting the school to get involved with a special needs school, perhaps you need to get onto the PTA and suggest it :)

I missed a word in my message above, it was my friends son, not mine - I have only one daughter - although sometimes he does feel like mine!

Posted on: May 31, 2012 - 4:53pm
littleangel
DoppleMe

I am currently working for a Carers Centre and have agreed to help out on a funday during Carers Week. I have asked if I could bring little angel which has been agreed. I have told her that it is a fun day and there will be lots of people there with Learning disabilities and physical, mental disabilities with their carers. Little angel has agreed she will not freak out and I am hoping this is the case and hopefully by spending a day with them all I can make her see there is nothing to be afraid of. Fingers crossed x

Posted on: June 1, 2012 - 9:20am
Sally W
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

Thats great littleangel, i hope all goes well with the fun day.    

Posted on: June 1, 2012 - 11:18am
littleangel
DoppleMe

This problem has escalated out of control now. Angel wont even go toilet on her own or be in a room during the day on her own. School have become involved and are having 1-1 sessions with her daily to try and reduce her fear. Angel is having nightmares about this lady every night and even panics if a window is open that she might climb in and get her! She is waiting for counselling but it seems to be taking ages. I took her to a doctor (not my usual one) and he was useless, he seemed to think it was just a regular child fear but this is so much more. I suspect my anxiety has been passed on to her (although she has never witnessed me have a panic attack, I somehow am always strong in her presence). The school are even thinking CAMHS need to become involved....

Posted on: July 5, 2012 - 10:44am
Louise
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

Hi little angel. she is clearly worried that this lady will harm her. The wait for counselling can be onerous. What I would suggest in the meantime is you say to her I understand how scared you are and let's make a plan. You could make a picture or fold some paper up into a homemade book. Get little angel to write/draw what it is she is scared of...and then you help her to make a plan.

For example, say she is scared of the lady getting in her window, first you could say that the lady would need a big ladder, or is too big to fit through the window or whatever...and make a plan, the plan being she gets out of her bedroom and comes to see you. Getting her to name/illustrate the fears is a good way of getting them out in the open and if she feels there is a remedy (ie a plan) then she will feel more in control.

One thing my son found helpful was to have a rose quartz crystal with him when he was picked on at school and if he felt anxious he would put his hand in his pocket and draw strength from the crystal...of course I know it was psychological but then so is anxiety. So one part of the plan might be having a special object.

You're right, she does seem an anxious little girl and I know you have concerns that you have made her anxious by your own behaviour. It could be that she is just genetically born like that! However, you can help her with your reassurance so do keep going Smile

Posted on: July 5, 2012 - 11:48am
littleangel
DoppleMe

Thanks for the suggestion Louise. I just tried having a chat with her tonight her fears are so far fetched its impossible to make any sort of plan (i.e. she thinks this lady can break down the front door and grab her from the bathroom before I get chance to walk accross the hall?!) but she also explained that she has a fear of the supernatural and I am fuming because I know exactly where this has come from. Me and my family regularly see a clairvoyant who send messages from people that have passed away in the family (we all believe in this) however my mum has had some strange goings on in her house for a few months and they are convinced her house is haunted. Now I know angel has overheard them talking about this and she has convinced herself it is this neighbour using some kind of magic to turn the tv on and move things. I am despairing!

Posted on: July 5, 2012 - 8:47pm
Louise
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

Oh little angel, poor you. Your angel is an imaginative little girl and she WILL grow out of the fears but that does not help while she is going through this. However, I have to say that things to do with spiritualism and clairvoyance would scare most young children (even though all the mediums I have encountered have been rather cosy and reassuring ladies Smile) So....what are we left with? I was wondering about the Sunday school idea that we were talking about some time ago and whether this would help her to feel safer, and to say a prayer etc. What do you think?

Posted on: July 6, 2012 - 7:05am
littleredhen
DoppleMe

Would I be way off the mark by saying just to listen to your daughters fears but say nothing - just the odd mm I see or yes I hear you in a very quiet and calm manner?

As I told you I had a similar experience with my youngest but it was at toddler group but then it grew into the wider community i.e when we were out and about.

I would really try and talk to another doctor - we saw the doctor about 4 times over 4 weeks - it was just a little reassuring chat but coming from a different adult let her talk over her fears and the doctor gave her some tips as well.

I think the key is to find an understanding doctor so could you phone your surgery and see if you can find out if someone else can help.

Other than that if she asks you to go to the toilet with her just go along calmly but saying nothing and be very matter of fact about it 

I think the key is listening to her but not really reacting to it so she knows you are taking her seriously but really there is nothing to worry about

The other thing I have just thought about is something like one of those little guardian angel pins that you can pin on your clothes - perhaps something like that may help her?

Not sure if any of that will help but I hope so

There is nothing worse than listening to someone telling you it is a normal childhood phase when you are living in the middle of it but if you can stay calm and not react to her anxiety things may calm down

Posted on: July 6, 2012 - 9:06am
littleredhen
DoppleMe

something like this here

Posted on: July 6, 2012 - 9:08am
littleangel
DoppleMe

LRH I love the guardian angel idea, I will definately be getting one of those. I dont tend to react to it normally it has pretty much become routine that she has to follow me to each room and that I accompany her to the toilet etc but it is starting to really get frustrating for me and I am getting a bit snappy with her at times just because it is so time consuming/inconvienient having to stop what I am doing to follow her to the toilet grrrr!

Thanks for the suggestion Louise, sunday school I am not sure about because I dont want to push her to be coerced in to any religion really - although she has self declared herself muslim for past two weeks and even makes her own headscarf lol (except she wont give up bacon ha).

 

Posted on: July 6, 2012 - 7:59pm
Louise
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

Yes it is annoying all the toilet business  but I think LRH's idea is excellent, just to be very calm. Another idea could be a star chart for staying in her room at night?

Posted on: July 7, 2012 - 8:06am
littleangel
DoppleMe

Well littleangel has slept in her own bed the last two nights after I moved my living room round so that my sofa is now positioned so that she can see mewhile she is lay in her bed. This is a really good step but last night I moved off the sofa to another point in the living room just to get something and Angel came bolting in at high speed in a panic. I asked her why she did that and she said she thought I had gone when I asked her where she possibly thinks I could have gone seeing as the door is in full view of her she began crying and just said she doesnt know but she is scared I will leave her?! I was quite upset to hear her say this because I have never left her (not even for a weekend), infact I am quite the opposite and rarely let her out of my sight. I just dont understand all this at all...

Posted on: July 10, 2012 - 9:26am
Louise
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

It really will settle down but this is not much help at the moment. With smaller children the suggestion is a gradual weaning off , eg sitting further and further away then sitting out of view but where they can hear you. However, I think that angel sounds in such a panic that it is not a good idea to even contemplate this right now. Just keep being there and either she will start to relax or she will tell you more about what is bothering her. Hugs to you, little angel.

Posted on: July 10, 2012 - 9:34am
littleangel
DoppleMe

Thanks Louise. This is just so draining with everything else that is going on Frown

I am just going to stick with the "sofa on view"method for now and she has a special keyring (couldnt find an angel) too which seem to be doing some good for now.

Docs appt is made for next fri.

Posted on: July 10, 2012 - 7:43pm
happy mamma
DoppleMe

Hi Littleangel

I really feel for you reading this. My step sister has cerebal palsy menatlly nothing wrong with her but her body is 'different' and her speach is scary for a young child.

We have taken my grandson to her house since he was a baby but he is still wary of her even though she spoils him rotton.

He has just got to the point of giving her a hug. I grew up with her so its normal for me but i understand how hard it must be.

I hope it goes well friday x

Posted on: July 10, 2012 - 8:08pm