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What to do? Advice would be appreciated
July 24, 2012 at 6:37 PM

My normally fearless DS (2 1/2) has very recently developed two very severe fears.

He is suddenly terrified of public washrooms.  He is fine at home and at friends houses, but if I take him to the mall or the grocery store or a restaurant he screams bloody murder if we have to go into the bathroom.  He tells me that he is scared of the potty.  I have some idea of where this might have come from.  Some public washrooms have those self-flushing toilets that literally "suck" the water down in record time, and some have those extra-strength hand driers that sound like a jet engine, and I imagine that maybe one of those sounds caused this sudden fear, even though he has been exposed to these sounds since he was born. 

However, around the same time as the fear of public washrooms came to light, he also because terrified of the dark... and I do mean terrified!  The first time it happened was in the middle of the night, he woke me up screaming and I ran to his room.  He said there was a monster outside his door, and he was shaking so hard it took me almost 15 minutes to calm him down.  I lay with him for about 1/2 hour but he wouldn't go back to sleep.  I finally told him I would leave his door open and the light on and that's when he managed to settle back down.  Anyhow, since then he refuses to sleep with his door closed and the light in the hallway must be on.  I have no idea what triggered this.  He has always slept with his door closed and he has never needed a night light.  

Would you be concerned if your child suddenly became fearful of things that never bothered him before (especially if there were no incident, that you could recall, that might trigger that fear)?  I'm more concerned about why he would be afraid of these things, rather than I am about dealing with the fear (I'm sure that with positive reinforcement and a lot of patience, we'll manage to help him overcome them).


  • Tea4Tas
    by Tea4Tas
    July 24, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    Eh-kids devlop fears. Grab some post it note, and tell your son you will keep the toilet from flusing-cover the senso with these, and have him leave the stall and stand outside it before you let it flush.

    Get him a night light.

  • bbmkfo03
    July 24, 2012 at 10:27 PM

     I wouldn't be concerned with why he developed these fears b/c it's totally normal for kids to develop fears all the time. My DD was afraid of the super-sucking toilets and the really loud hand driers but I kept exposing her to them and she eventually got over it. She also became afraid of the dark too. She now has 3 night lights, we keep her door open and the hall light on too. I know it's a phase she'll get over it and then she'll be on to the next fear, which is starting to be thunderstorms.

    Just keep reassuring him that you're close by, there's nothing to be afraid of, comfort him but don't give into the fears meaning don't let him avoid public bathrooms or let him sleep with you, etc.

  • mommaFruFru
    July 24, 2012 at 10:50 PM

    i think those are pretty normal fears for that age. both my boys went through then around those ages, followed by bugs, lol  just re assure him,

     i bought the boys a flash light to keep with them, and we also covered their ears in public bathrooms< it was the noise that bugged them>

  • angie2568
    July 25, 2012 at 9:43 AM

     He could be having night terrors and in his mind only bits and pieces come back.

    You may want to take his to the Peds and ask what they think.

    Good luck.

  • Mommy2justone
    July 25, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    That is a normal age for bad dreams actually. My daughter has night terrors and we took her to her neurologist, she was 3 at the time, and they said that it was normal for toddlers to have bad dreams. Her night terrors are not the same, but he did address bad dreams. 

  • lj.smommy
    July 25, 2012 at 10:39 AM
    I think its normal. ds is scared of earthworms, he's terrified of fans that are.turned on (just not ceiling fans) this on was recent we never knew until we walked by fans in walmart.
  • LDavis33
    July 25, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    Thanks everyone for making me feel a bit better about this.  I guess I just need to be patient and remember that all kids go through this.  I still can't help but be somewhat concerned about the timing of these fears and how sudden they seemed to appear.  If they are still a problem at our next Dr.'s visit, I'll bring it up with him.

    Thanks again.

  • TempestRayne
    July 25, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Kids' imaginations are incredible! two and a half is about the time they kick in to high gear, and all of a sudden a self flushing toilet that didn't bother him bfore is trying to suck him down, and there are monsters in the dark that want to gobble him up!

    You can, by all means, ask him if there is a reason that he is suddenly scared of bathrooms and the dark, but they are very common fears, so don't lokk for monsters where there probably aren't any yourself, okay?

  • LindaClement
    July 25, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    It's probably the result of a very-realistic nightmare.

    It's normal for kids' developing ability to notice things to increase the things they're afraid of. 

    What will, ultimately, help the most is your lack of fear in these situations.

  • marisab
    by marisab
    July 25, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    i had same issue with my 18 mos old with vacums she used to not be scared and suddenly she is the dr says its normal and they usually out grow such fears

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