Fear of Heights!

Sarah - posted on 03/12/2010 ( 6 moms have responded )

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Okay so I posted this somewhere else and it seems like almost all of the other forums I've joined just don't participate anymore! This is not a debate I just don't know what to do and would appreciate help! :) My four year old step daughter (who lives with us permanently) is deathly afraid of heights. According to step grandmother (whom she lived with for two years) they had to work their way up to even getting her to go down a slide! If you try and hold her out from you she starts sobbing and clings to you. She refuses to climb up things, won't stand on anything that's above a foot off the ground even if Daddy or I are standing right there holding her. She wouldn't even let me push her on a swing! Didn't even sit on the swing fully, because her legs would be off the ground by half a foot. Everything I've tried to read about it just says not to push it or force it, just encourage and let it be. But I don't think this is normal! I don't want her growing up so terrified to do things! And if anyone knows of a good forum for these kinds of questions that would be awesome! I don't want to clog the debating forums with questions like this! :) Thanks!

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Carolee - posted on 03/12/2010

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I would always ask her if she would like to do things that take her feet off the ground, but I wouldn't force her in any way. I would also try to show her how much fun it can be. As a person with a somewhat "un-warranted" fear myself, I would suggest letting her become comfortable with the mere idea of swinging. Eventually, move to actually sitting on the swing, then, when she's ready, push her a little bit while she's sitting on the swing. It will take time. Good luck.

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Belinda - posted on 03/14/2010

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Honestly, I wouldn't worry too much right now. You can always ask your doc about it though. I have a major issue with water deeper than my waist. And if I can't see the bottom...forget it. I try so hard to make myself just "get in". But I freeze. I literally cannot talk myself into moving. My chest gets tight and I'll even tear up a little.

Whats funny about this is my husband is in the Coast Guard and we live in Key West. Go figure.

Rose - posted on 03/14/2010

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I would just leave it alone. My nephew was afraid of heights for the longest time. He just turned 8 and he is almost to the point he isn't scared no more. One time his dad told him he was going to put him on the roof of the house he started shaking and crying he was like 5 or so. His dad is a mean person. I think she will be fine and grow out of it. It is prolly one of those things that takes time. Good luck and i hope things get better for you.

[deleted account]

Hi Sarah. I'm afraid of heights. It's not so much the height that people are afraid of, it's falling. I would never climb the monkey bars at school, I was so afraid. I remember getting half way up one time and then the teacher had to come and get me down, I was too afraid to move. I can't climb stairs if I can see between the steps. I can't walk too close to the railing on the upper levels of malls or anywhere that I'm more than one floor up and can see over the side. I can only climb up a few rungs of a ladder. I went up the CN Tower with my hubby but had to stand at the back of the elevator (it was a glass elevator) so that I couldn't see out. I couldn't go near the edge, even thought there's no way you could fall off. Hubby walked across the glass floor and that damn near gave me a heart attack. I'm begging him to move, telling him that it's just glass and could break, the other people there must have thought I was nuts.



When I'm in any of the above mentioned situations my legs start to shake, I get panicky, my stomach knots, I can't move yet my mind is screaming at me to get out of there. I have to force myself to move - all this takes place in a span of a few seconds. As soon as I've moved, even if it's only a few steps, all the symptoms so away.



I know that it's a totally irrational fear but that doesn't change anything. As mentioned in Meghan's post, there's a glitch in my "fight or flight" response. In my case, it doesn't interfere with my day to day life so I don't feel the need to get professional help but if there comes a time when it does then I would probably seek help.

Sarah - posted on 03/13/2010

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Thank you for your advice! I know that children often have fears, and honestly there are worse things to be terrified of than heights! I guess I'm concerned because it seems so overwhelming for her. It doesn't affect her daily life yet, but I feel like it has the potential to do so as she gets a little older. She's four and when I'm holding her if I even tip her away from me just a little she starts to cry and tremble! Her Dad tries to play with her and lifts her up a bit above her head and she's begging to get down even though he's securely holding her. I think I'm also worried because I don't know if this stems from something that happened during the times she was living with her mom and her mom's boyfriend. I just don't want her to grow up being so completely afraid and not being able to get past it!

[deleted account]

were not here only to debate, were here for advice and help as well so keep your posing up for help!

It is normal and even helpful to experience fear in dangerous situations. Fear is an adaptive human response. It serves a protective purpose, activating the automatic “fight-or-flight” response. With our bodies and minds alert and ready for action, we are able to respond quickly and protect ourselves.

But with phobias the threat is greatly exaggerated or nonexistent. For example, it is only natural to be afraid of a snarling Doberman, but it is irrational to be terrified of a friendly poodle on a leash, as you might be if you have a dog phobia.
Normal fears in children

Phobias in children are common. According to The Child Anxiety Network, 90% of children between the ages of 2-14 have at least one specific fear. The following fears are shared by many children and are considered normal:

* 0-2 years – Loud noises, strangers, separation from parents, large objects.
* 3-6 years – Imaginary things such as ghosts, monsters, the dark, sleeping alone, strange noises.
* 7-16 years – More realistic fears such as injury, illness, school performance, death, natural disasters.

If your child’s fear is not interfering with his or her daily life, then it is unlikely that treatment is needed. However, if the fear is interfering with your child’s social activities, school performance, or sleep patterns, you should seek professional help from a qualified therapist.

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