If you own a dog or a cat or any other animal that moves quicker than a turtle, chances are, you will never receive a plate of brownies from us and being close friends is probably out of the question. (I know, I’m sorry, you’re heartbroken.) But that’s just the plain truth. As unfortunate as it is in my eyes to say that, that’s how the cookie has crumbled over at our house.
Whenever we approach someone’s home or my kids meet a new friend and are invited to play at their house, the very first question asked is, “Do they have a dog?” That’s the determining factor as to whether they can play there or not. My kids are terrified of animals. They can handle animals that are securely locked behind a steel iron gate, like at the zoo, but pets…no way.
I can’t think of too many things I’m afraid of. I was a very adventurous child and a lot of that has carried on through my adulthood. I’ll try most things. I had all kinds of animals growing up, regardless of my horrific allergy toward their fuzzy fur. We owned dogs, cats, lambs, guinea pigs, etc…I loved having animals growing up. Having more of a fearless approach to life has made having children with phobias a difficult thing to manage as a parent. Six years ago my daughter witnessed a little yappity dog bite her daddy in the leg. Her love for “woof-woof’s” immediately vanished and the very sight of a dog now has her tied up in knots. She has kindly passed down that fear to her brother.
Going for walks or sending them outside to play always comes with a very high degree of apprehension. My kids know every home that owns a dog, when to cross the street and walk on the opposite sidewalk, and if a dog is loose a mile away. My daughter has a sixth sense for animals. I swear she can sniff them out before they even know she’s there.
It was a tough thing for me to deal with at first and I would do my best to force them to be near animals, in hopes that I might cure them of their phobia. But now that I’m used to it and I’ve given up on forcing the issue, I realize that kids having phobias isn’t the end of the world and actually, it can be a good thing.
I’d rather them be cautious when a dog is loose outside. I don’t trust all dogs. Just like I’d rather them be afraid of strangers and shy with people they don’t know. I’ll admit, my own fearlessness has gotten me into trouble a number of times. I’ve been attacked by dogs, had a sick Dalmation practically rip my stomach to shreds and have had my share of injuries because I wasn’t afraid of doing something that I should have been. I think a little apprehension is a good thing.
D’Arcy Lyness, PhD, also agrees that having fears isn’t all bad. In this very informative and helpful article from KidsHealth about kids and phobias she suggests:
Feeling anxious in a particularly uncomfortable situation never feels very good. However, with kids, such feelings are not only normal, they’re also necessary. Dealing with anxieties can prepare young people to handle the unsettling experiences and challenging situations of life.
It’s helpful to see it from that perspective. I know having a fear of dogs is very common, and so I will just accept the fact that we will never own a pet. I’m okay with that. And instead of us coming to your house, we will be more than happy to invite you over to our house for brownies.
Do your kids have phobias? What are they and how do you deal with them?
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