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My Toddler Is Suddenly Scared of Everything

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Mr. Elephant is suddenly much more scary than he used to be!

When Cullen was a baby and just growing into his toddlerhood, we marveled at how fearless he seemed. To be honest, it kind of scared me. He’d climb steps without ever looking back, plunge belly-first down the slide with a wild smile and run straight into the lapping waves of the ocean without hesitation. He continued to seem very confident and had little sense of fear as he continued to grow and embrace all the fun that comes with being 2.

And then all of the sudden, something changed. Former favorite activities like riding the carousel at the zoo (literally, we couldn’t pry him off of it) are now met with tears and arms wrapped around my neck. Zoo trips in general are a roller coaster ride. He begs to go and then spends the whole time begging to be picked up and carried whenever the animals come close.

And the list grows from there. Fire trucks? Too loud. Construction sites? Loud. Blender, vacuum, hairdryer? You guessed it. LOUD. And yes, they are loud but they are all parts of our world and things he’s been surrounded by his entire life. And honestly, what 2-year-old boy is scared of a fire truck? Come on. I don’t mean to seem insensitive to his feelings, but it’s frustrating that he is so clingy and fearful for seemingly no reason, and over things that just a month or two ago were no big deal.

We had an issue with our dogs a few months ago that (understandably) scared him badly. I can’t help but think that it triggered some sort of fearfulness that has now extended into other areas. It makes me so sad that he’s feeling such intense emotions, and I am trying so hard to understand and reassure him however possible. We’ve had to work really hard to get him comfortable with dogs again (which thankfully, he is now) but it’s interesting to me that the fear seems to have stretched into other areas. I think part of it might also be a bit of new sibling regression — the desire to cling to and be picked up by mommy has intensified, and I’m sure that is partially related to the fact that he sees my arms full of his baby brother most of the time now.

Whatever it is, I’m doing my best to be sensitive and comforting, while also not giving into him too much and overly-coddling.  It feels like a fine line to walk. I want to restore his sense of confidence and excitement, and I hope he can start to embrace new scenarios and situations rather than fearing them. Part of me wonders if it’s also not just another age and stage type of thing. Time will tell!

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