Aimee - posted on 12/04/2012 ( 3 moms have responded )
Let's see how I can make this post short and sweet. My step kids came to live with us in July and I love them dearly. We have a 12 year old boy and a 9 year old girl. I'm concerned about how to handle my 9 year old girl's fears.
The 12 year old currently suffers from stress & depression, taking Zoloft daily. His 2 year low functioning, high anxiety has improved, almost entirely gone away.
The 9 year old has always had some fears, but nothing that stopped her from sleeping through the night or walking outside. Now that her brother's is near average 12 year behavior, her anxiety has suddenly become more evident.
She has a fear of going to sleep. Her fear is tied to different excuses at different houses - linked to a tiny spider on the ceiling in July at our house, an old boyfriend coming in the house late at night at her mom's (she has never exhibited signs of abuse, not that it isn't a possibility), sleeping next to the window at her grandma's and refusing to sleep alone at her other grandma's.
She is afraid of woods, even in the middle of the day. We were on a hike and she refused to move further until we talked her through no deer jumping out to get her.
She is afraid to drive on the highway at night.
She's never had a bad spider bite; never had an incident with deer attacking her; never lived in a house where someone broke in through the window; never in an accident on the highway at night.
She has improved. In July, it started with intense 20 min anxiety attacks to now, a quiet defiance when asked to go to bed before she wants to. We had been trying some of the tactics her brother used - fact doesn't support the fear, telling herself there is nothing to be afraid of, establishing a bed time routine with relaxing and mind soothing exercises.
I brought up the "why don't you like to go to bed" tonight b/c we've had a number of rough nights. I was surprised to hear about the spider fear b/c it's not been talked about since late summer. Then the little voice in my head started nagging. Is she just tired or has she just learned to compensate for debilitating fears over the last few months?
But something in my gut is telling me this is outside the realm of a fear an average 9 year old should be experiencing. Honestly, I'm posting because I don't know an appropriate fear level is for 9 year olds. Is this something we need to pursue outside of the tools we've been using? She doesn't seem to have confidence in her inner voice, telling her it will be okay. Will she grow out of it; will it just take longer than 6-12 months?
This has been a topic of conversation with my husband and I, but we both agree we don't know! We've seen the benefit of a counselor for his son, but we don't want to be "those parents" and jump the gun if this will work itself out. Mom is not useful for this type of issue.
**I know these posts can bring out opinions of what could have been done differently. I'm forging my way with an open heart. Please keep the comments to the support and away from the criticism. Kindly appreciated.