Huggies Forum

Huggies® Ultimate
Nappy Pants

Learn More
The Huggies Forum is closed for new replies and topics, you can still read older topics.
  1. home
  2. Baby Forum
  3. Toddler
  4. Your Toddler - General Chat
  5. I think my 4 year old has a phobia :(

I think my 4 year old has a phobia :( Lock Rss

It started when she was 7 months old, we were visiting a family member who has a little pug (was a puppy at the time) it got abit too close one time, & DD1 cried. She was still interested in it, and happy to watch it, so long as it kept its distance.

She's since become scared of any creature. Even butterflies. But mostly dogs & cats, probably because we see them more.

Over time, her fear has become more & more intense to the point where now, if we go down the street & walk past a dog, she walks on the other side of me and squeezes my hand tight, not taking her eyes off the dog.

If we go to someones house and they have an animal there, they have to be chained up or locked in a room, or she'll get extremely anxious & keep herself away & out of activites. When on our way to a friends place, all she'll talk about is keeping their cat/dog locked away, or cry because she doesnt want to go over there because there's a cat/dog there.

At a friends place the other day she'd been happily playing for a few hours (she knows there's a cat there) and we thought the cat was asleep in a bedroom. We were out in the backyard and the cat climbed through the fence about 3-4 metres from DD1 and sat down, as soon as DD1 saw it, she screamed so loud and started trembling. I could see she wanted to run away but she didnt know where to go. We all tried calming her down but she wouldnt listen to anyone. Watching her, I was almost in tears. I picked her up & she clung to me so tight & buried her head in my shoulder, still shaking. The next half hour she spent looking for the cat, which we'd locked in another room.

It doesnt help either when idiots walk around town with their dogs without a leash, and laugh when it runs after DD1 while she's screaming in tears. Not frikken funny!!!!!

We used to have a cat, and she was nervous around it, but still could get close to it & pat it. But if it walked towards her she'd get abit scared. It had to be her going to the cat. We've since had to get rid of it though so we have no pets now.

DD2 was fine with animals, but a few times she's seen how DD1 reacts, and is started to do the same sad

We would like to get more pets some time soon, but obviously want to get ontop of DD1's issues first.

Does anybody have any advice or experience? Any good books to read, or links to reliable online info? Anything? Would it be helpful to go to the GP about this? Would they refer us to someone else?
Not sure what to do, but I would talk to the baby nurse and/or GP.

I have a fear of dogs and cockroaches, I have been trying to be brave around my kids so they dont develop the same fear, but the other day there was a cockroach in our house on the wall and I sprayed it and it flew on me, DD1 was watching me and I screamed and kept spraying, was getting hysterical, and DD was getting worked up too, but I was so scared, yes it is a cockraoch, but once I had killed it, I explained to DD that mummy is scared of them, and it is ok, sorry mummy scared you and she calmed down, and isnt scared of them. Maybe explaining to your DD2 how it is ok to like animals even if DD1 doesnt

My children are the same with dogs, they are terrified. My son has heard somewhere that dogs are carnivores and believes now that dogs eat children. When we saw a friends dogs he thought it was trying to eat him. I said to him that I wouldn't take him there if it wanted to eat him!

I think the best thing is just to take the fear seriously, and recognise the reasonable part of it - because it is not unreasonable for a child to be afraid of dogs and cats.

Over time I feel that my kids will come to relax about it. The best thing I think would be to get to know a certain dog, or perhaps visit RSPCA and ask them about really good natured dogs who don't bark you could go to see and talk to. The thing is - not all dogs need to be feared, but it is wise to fear strange dogs so I think that needs to be acknowledged. You could write a homemade book about it and explain that dogs are trained to live with people and that a lot of children have dogs that live in their homes and that are their friends. One story that comes to mind is The Smelly Dog by Enid Blighton.

My kids ask me "Is that dog nice?" and I tend to answer honestly with "I don't know". So fears like that actually show intelligence as opposed to paranoia or an unreasonable phobia. My kids are wary of spiders and if they don't recognise the species will always stay away and come and tell me, but they don't have a huge fear because they know a spider isn't going to run after them like a dog potentially could. I think that is perfectly reasonable because I know that a vicious dog could kill my child and that people often don't put them on leads - so kids would understand those same things probably.

It worries me how upset my son can get but I don't take him near dogs. Since it doesn't really effect my kids as we never see dogs, I don't see it as a problem in my household. Being afraid of a potentially dangerous animal isn't crazy at all, if you are a child and relatively helpless and dependent. It is clever.

My post isn't very well written as I'm really tired but just wanted to quickly say something since my kids are scared too.
Thats so sad, poor little lady having to go through this sad

I think that websites like utube are great for this type of thing. If it was my child I would be showing clips off utube and watching suitable nature style programs and talking lots about how dogs and cats can be very friendly and fun to be around.

Then when she gets her head around that maybe a trip to the zoo would be good because the animals are behind a barrier and so she will be safe to observe without worrying that the animals will hurt her. It would also encourage conversation.

Then once she gets the idea that animals may not be so bad a visit to a place like a pet shop.... she might even decide she wants a fish or something.

But exposure and lots of it is a good thing, because it helps to undo all the negitive wiring that she has done.

http://decadent-delights1.webnode.com/blog/
My blog, take a peek into my world

windmill said basically what i was going to smile

my DD isnt 'afraid' but is very vary of animals and freaks out if they come to close. she will pat them tho if someone is holding them in their arms, maybe she knows they cant jump/run at her or something.

something i was thinking might help is gentle exposure, so maybe going and watching dogs play in the park (from a safe distance) or watching the ones in the pet shop safely behind glass (as much as i hate pet shops) just to build her confidence a little bit?

but as windmill said i think its actually a good thing for kids to be carefull and fearful around animals, id acknowledge the fear and even praise it a bit by saying that SOME dogs can be dangerous but not all of them and its good that shes careful, but some dogs can be wonderful friends and lots of fun. honestly tho i think shell grow out of it a bit but you may have to bite the 'no pets' bullet for a while smile
Thanks everyone for your replies,

I agree, some fear is good! And is natural really. But surely not when she's screaming & shaking & is inconsolible?

I do take her to the pet shop every now & then most times because she asks lol. They dont always have cats or dogs in there so she's usually quite happy to go in there & have a look at the birds/lizards/fish/rats aslong as they're in a cage. But she wont get too close to their cage.
When they DO have kittens/puppies, she's happy to go and have a look while they're in their cage, but stays at least half a metre away. One time the shop owners let the puppies out in the shop for a run around (fair enough) but they didnt warn us <img src='https://www.huggies.com.au/forum/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/dry.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='<_<' /> so I had DD1 (18kg) clung to me on one side, and pushing a jogger pram through the shop with the other hand trying to weave through the shop to get out and not break anything. Mind you the puppies were on the other side of the pet shop & weren't even looking at DD.

Taking her to the RSPCA and zoo sound like a good idea & a great place to have a conversation & her to tell me how she feels while she's not petrified.
i'll definitely be reading some books & watching some animal documentarys and showing her its okay to be scared, but that they're not all bad, & I wouldnt take her anywhere near the mean ones. We already watch docs alot but mostly wild animals, so might have to find a domestic animal one.

I'll have to look out for where people take there dogs around here, I have no idea lol

Do you think a guinea pig would be okay for a pet? Caged up most of the time but is small enough to cuddle and not jump, make scary noises or lick your face??

Thanks everyone for your replies,

I agree, some fear is good! And is natural really. But surely not when she's screaming & shaking & is inconsolible?

I do take her to the pet shop every now & then most times because she asks lol. They dont always have cats or dogs in there so she's usually quite happy to go in there & have a look at the birds/lizards/fish/rats aslong as they're in a cage. But she wont get too close to their cage.
When they DO have kittens/puppies, she's happy to go and have a look while they're in their cage, but stays at least half a metre away. One time the shop owners let the puppies out in the shop for a run around (fair enough) but they didnt warn us so I had DD1 (18kg) clung to me on one side, and pushing a jogger pram through the shop with the other hand trying to weave through the shop to get out and not break anything. Mind you the puppies were on the other side of the pet shop & weren't even looking at DD.

Taking her to the RSPCA and zoo sound like a good idea & a great place to have a conversation & her to tell me how she feels while she's not petrified.
i'll definitely be reading some books & watching some animal documentarys and showing her its okay to be scared, but that they're not all bad, & I wouldnt take her anywhere near the mean ones. We already watch docs alot but mostly wild animals, so might have to find a domestic animal one.

I'll have to look out for where people take there dogs around here, I have no idea lol

Do you think a guinea pig would be okay for a pet? Caged up most of the time but is small enough to cuddle and not jump, make scary noises or lick your face??


I think that a guinea pig or a rabbit would be a great starter pet. There are certain breeds that are more relaxed and don't mind being handled by children.

http://decadent-delights1.webnode.com/blog/
My blog, take a peek into my world

guniea pigs are a good first pet but make sure you get them as babies if you get an adult one sometimes they bite (depends on the last owner) same with smaller breeds of rabbit (make sure you check some states dont allow you to keep rabbits)

another good one is domestic bred mice, the little ones, as long as you keep the cage clean and just get females they dont smell and are great fun with all the fun things you can put in their cage smile but it depends on if your DD can be gentle enough. mice are alot less work then ginea pigs and rabbits and can be kept inside too
Here is a good youtube clip you could show her.... so cute

My link

http://decadent-delights1.webnode.com/blog/
My blog, take a peek into my world

We've had a couple of lop-eared rabbits a few years ago but found them too jumpy & not friendly so we gave them away lol. We used to have a mouse too but it died and DP is against getting another one roll eyes

Thanks for the link dansally, I'll watch it with DD tomorrow smile
aw, i really feel for your little one. it must be really stressful for her when she goes places where there are animals, to be on a constant state of alert. it sounds like she needs to be desensitized. if you are gently exposed to something that you fear, often enough, you can begin to overcome your fear. some of her fear is reasonable - we own a dog & my children love animals but we have taught them that you should never approach a dog (even a friend's pet) unless the owner is there & has given you permission & we have taught them various boundaries with dealing with dogs. it sounds like you are acknowledging her fear & i think thats really helpful. she needs to know that its ok to be wary. what would be ideal is that she can be wary without being terrified. is it just cats & dogs that she is afraid of? if you could find a friend who has a dog that isn't too big & is very easygoing, who you could visit on a regular basis, it could be really helpful. she probably needs to be exposed to the same animal, not different ones all the time. when its always different animals they are unpredicatable & that is scary for her. she might always be wary - when we were growing up, we always had cats, & yet my older sister has always been quite wary of them & still is & i know lots of healthy, well-rounded adults who are a bit wary of them. if you could get to a place with her where she is not constantly stressed in their presence then that would be really ideal. hope this is in some way helpful & good luck!
Thanks for your reply soulkitten, your reply was helpful. She even runs a mile from a butterfly. And when those butterscoth ponies (the big toys that kids can sit on & they neigh and stuff) she was PETRIFIED of them. Havent seen them around for awhile though. A family member had a couple of caged cockatiels, she was very scared of them too. Havent had much interaction with other animals that I can think of.

A friend of ours has 2 small jack russel type dogs, they're friendly quiet dogs, and they've recently had pups. My friend opened the back door to get bring one of the pups inside for us to look at, and DD went into panic mode. The dogs didnt even come inside, but the fact the door was open was enough to freak her out. We eventually got a puppy in (tiny puppy, not even nearly walking) she was so-so with it, but told me not to let it go, it had to stay in my arms close to my body, and she wouldnt come anywhere near me. She still said it was cute, but still afraid of it.

Hopefully lots of different books and talks, some simple coping techniques for her to use if she is in a scary situation, and gradual introducing & desensitizing will help her. It will be a long process, but hopefully it works smile
Sign in to follow this topic