Monday, February 21, 2011

Anxiety in Toddlers

My toddler that will be 3 in May just started going through Toddler Stranger Anxiety. I hear a lot about Baby Stranger Anxiety, but not a whole lot about toddlers.

Here's just a few examples:
  • My sister goes to a stroller class to get exercise. Sometimes she has her stroller full of kid's. Every once in awhile Isaak will ride in another mom's stroller. He hasn't wanted anything to do with that the last two times. He scream cries. Then later on at the playground if his cousin isn't right at his side, Isaak freaks out.
  • Over the weekend we had family over at our house. When Grandma and Grandpa got in Isaak was fine. As other people started to walk in Isaak scream cried. I really thought something was wrong with him. Isaak sees everyone on a regular basis except for my older sister's family. He hasn't seen them since Christmas.
  • In the checkout line at Costco, they pull the cart to the opposite side that you are paying. Isaak had a look of panic on his face. I ran over and grabbed him before he started to cry.
  • In public restrooms Isaak gets terrified to go potty when there's an automatic flusher and he hates the hand blow dryers! A great blogger here gave me the idea of putting sticky notes over the sensors of the automatic flusher. I haven't been anywhere to try this yet, but will.
I read about toddler anxiety here and here. These are some of the key fears I learned from the articles:
  • Toddlers are old enough to understand that the world is big. Being out of their comfort zone is HUGE to them.
  • The family dog barks and the cat scratches.
  • Other little kids take toys.
  • Parents disappear for what seems like long periods of time to them.
  • Loud noises like the vacuum cleaner scare them.
  • Older kids fill their world with scary thoughts. Like: There's a monster downstairs; when really it's just the washer, or dryer.
    Although we don't have a dog or a cat, many other things are key indicators towards things Isaak is sensitive to. Instead of being afraid of the vacuum, it's the automatic flusher toilets. I'm sure other kid's take his toy's. He's around 3 other kids all the time, and is the youngest in the group. We have a family full of people that joke around. I can see how Isaak would take one of our jokes seriously. I'll have to watch that!

    I did experience a little stranger anxiety with my older son Mica. He acted out in a different way. He did what I called, "The Nervous Dance". He'd prance around a room all uncomfortably.

    I'm happy to learn that this like a lot of stages, goes away with time. There is something to be said about stranger anxiety that is good; you don't want your kids to feel so comfortable with strangers that they go to just anybody.

    I think the best thing to do is hug them and reassure them that everything is ok. Tell them that you are there for them.


    Alicia C. said...

    Great post. My oldest had many of these problems. We just made sure to hold his hand or keep talking to him when he experienced these fears. He eventually grew out of them. But, at nearly 13 y.o., he's still freaky about stuff. He absolutely hates being outside after dark unless he's with a zillion other people, for instance.

    I'm not sure if my toddler will experience this. I almost wish he would. I describe him as having too much self-esteem - he's not afraid of anything or anyone. Warning him about dangers just makes him want to test my "theories" to see if they're right. I fear that he may be one of those kids who thinks he can jump off the roof and fly with a towel tied around his neck!

    Anonymous said...

    I know how anxiety can be but I haven't experienced any with children.
    Great post BTW!
    I can learn a lot from you :)

    I'm following through GFC. I'll be back later this week to read more but right now I got an exam to cram for tmr.
    Have a good week!

    BabyDealsDujour said...

    Loving your blog! My oldest had toddler anxiety too, but she grew out of it. Just one of many phases I guess.

    Now following from
    We track all of the daily baby deals and list them in real-time. Would love for you to stop by and follow back!

    LeeAnn said...

    Poor kid! They are learning so much, and are starting to realize so much about the world around them, that it makes sense for 3 year olds to have anxiety. My daughter has been having nightmares every night since she turned 3. I hope this phase will pass soon for both of us!