Thursday, January 24, 2013

Where did this fear come from?

For at lest three years, Jacob, now six and a half, has been sleeping in the family room at my house, two rooms away from my bedrom. Never been a problem. Oh, once he mentioned that he has nightmares back there, and I asked why he didn't come get me. He was vague, and I suspect he fell back asleep before he could get up and walk to my room. I long ago stopped using the monitor, though I admit my hearing is not good and without hearing aids and he'll have to yell to get my attention (he does that successfully when he wants food or drink or the TV is broken).
But last night, night-time fear became a big problem. He said he was afraid and he thought he should sleep with me. I decided to humor him this one time and told him to go get in my bed, but no, he wanted to wait for me to go to bed. My explanation that I would be up over two hours past his school-night bedtime fell on deaf ears. He wanted to sleep on the comfy chair in my office--I said no because he'd be staring right at me and at the light; then he chose the floor, but I had to nix that because all he did was play with the dog; then it was the living room couch--but what he really did was to peek out the glass front door and announce that a man walked by and two cars drove by slowly. I assured him we were safe, but he asked what if they were bad guys with guns. It doesn't occur to him that bad guys with guns are unlikely to be interested in us.
He did have one clever ploy: "I just wanted to be with you, because I love you, but if that's not what you want, that's fine with me!" He stalked off but returned in two minutes.
Long story short, I went to bed early, slept fitfully, although he was better than he sometimes is--I don't really recall getting punched, and I only had to shove him over twice. But as a way of life, it won't do.
It's not unusual for children up to six to develop uncontrollable fears, but he's at the age where they usually outgrow them. I suspect someone, perhaps at school, has been filling him with scary stories. Almost all his cousins will be sleeping at my house this weekend, and I know he'll want to be here. Praise be, his mom offered a blow-up mattress for him. Wonderful idea. He will not, of course, want his cousins, ranging from eight to five, to know that he's afraid. We'll see how it works out.
But the deeper problem remains--how do we gently urge him over these fears without making him feel silly.


moksha b. todd said...

Judy, I so hope I am wrong. There ARE some, very few, but some parents who fill their first graders' heads with all sorts of adult fears. Also, kids that age hear what the adults around them say and with all of the gun propaganda around today, it is quite possible that some crazy parent told their 6 year old that the teachers are going to carry guns, or some such. When I was an elementary school teacher I was shocked often at the things some irresponsible, and often selfish, parents would tell their young children. Keep your ears open and listen to his chats with his cousins, something may come out. Good luck.

Judy Alter said...

Thanks, Moksha. Good points. I know its not his parents because he's done the same thing at home and they are concerned about it. But there are many others who could be guilty, even inadvertently. If they arm teachers, home schooling may suddenly look attractive.

Polly Iyer said...

Bet he'll be fine this weekend, Judy. Sometimes weird things get in their heads. It will pass. Just cuddle.

Judy Alter said...

Always good advice, Polly. Thanks. He's really sad right now because he can't cuddle with his mom--she has the flu. He told me he was going to get sick because he just can't wait any longer to cuddle with her!