"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> urbanMamas

"I'm scared of the ladybugs and cows!"

Well, those little tykes.  If it ain't the dark, then it's something else, like cows or ladybugs.  Do you have any suggestions for the mama of this suddenly fearful girl?

My lovely 2-1/2 year old daughter is suddenly afraid of things, and by "things" I mean going to bed and taking a bath.

Somehow I have ladybugs in the bath, and she tells me she's afraid. But before she tells me she's afriad I ask her to find some and she can't. "No ladybugs in the bath."  Then, my girl, who has always been totally easy to put down for bed (often telling me herself that she was ready for nap and goodnight), now will not go to sleep in her crib because she is afraid of the cows.  Cows?  Really?  In her 10X12 bedroom?  Seriously. Well, yes she is serious.  I took down a drawing that has been up for months showing a cow jumping over the moon, so maybe that will help.  However, the ladybugs in the bath thing is getting old.  I shower with her to get her clean, but it's a bit like showering with a declawed cat, that's 25lbs and slippery.

In other households, the scary creatures may be ants, squirrels, or pigeons.  Whatever the fear factor, do you have any ideas to get this urbanMama's babe back in the tub and bed, fear-free? 

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My oldest is three and also went through that stage. We had a ladybug fear, too. Go figure. I dealt with it by making a game of getting rid of those little make believe creatures. We would open a window or door for a minute and do the ladybug be gone flittery dance to make them go outside. At bed time here, it's often about frogs on the ceiling or flying dinosaurs. I jump around pretending to catch them and ask her to tell me when they are gone. By the time she's giggling like crazy, she's forgotten all about them. Don't know if that would work for you, but it might be worth a try. This too will pass, and she'll be onto another phase. We are in the major stall tactics "just one more thing" phase, which I hear last a long long time. Good luck!

We've had no bug/animal fear yet but my almost 3.5-yr-old DID start to develop fears out of seemingly nowhere at around your child's age. She became fearful almost overnight of things she'd previously been doing with gusto! Fear of heights on play structures at the parks she'd been visiting her whole life...afraid to go down almost any slide...crossing the little bridges a few feet off the ground. Fear of the potty she previously adored (and used)! Fear of certain foods she was wolfing down just a few days before. I think it's normal to develop fears around that age. In fact, I believe I read somewhere that it's supposed to be an evolved way of avoiding danger during an age where kids start to seek independence from parents. If they happen to wander off they're less likely to try to eat something or do something that could be dangerous for them.

In my daughter's case, we didn't push or even make a big deal out of it and all by herself she's negotiated them and reattempted most of them (except the potty...ARG). In some cases it's been startling how one day she says she's afraid of something and then the next she's back to loving it. Hopefully she doesn't take note of the looks of shock and awe on her parents' faces!

That probably doesn't help get your child to bed or bathed, but maybe the knowledge that she will outgrow those fears in time will help? Good for you for being sensitive to her needs and trying to accommodate them whenever possible. And I laughed out loud about the slippery cat shower comment--too true!

Do you have a dog? We do. He eats everything scary--monsters, bad dreams, robbers, the giant ice berg that sunk the Titanic-- then "he poops them out and we scoop them up and throw them away."

It works.

I picked up one of those "dream catchers" the last time I was in Arizona. Hung it over my son's bed and told him that it caught all his dreams, threw away the bad/scary ones and kept the nice ones. Somehow that's worked and he hasn't woken up with a nightmare since. I wonder if something like that could be modified to cover other fears as well. A new bath toy that is an imaginary ladybug eater? A bell next to her bed that keeps the cows away. That sort of thing. Like mummytothree, rather than try to reason them out of these... interesting and imaginative fears, sometimes it's just easier (and more pleasant!) to work with them.

The other thing that I do, when my 3 year old comes up with a particularly inventive fear, is try to figure out where that came from. These days many of his comments and concerns seem to come from the DVDs of Charlie and Lola he loves. The other night when we were at a friend's house, he suddenly started fretting over a lion eating his toothbrush back at home, and refused to be consoled or convinced that a lion was NOT eating his toothbrush (and since we weren't at home, I couldn't show him). Lo and behold, a few days later when I was in the living room while he watched his allotted 30 minutes, Lola imagines a lion eating her toothbrush. So these days, when the fear or concern is particularly inventive, I often ask where did he see or hear that.

there are some great ideas here, and i don't have any other tips to share. but i'm reassured by this post and the responses. my daughter is also 2.5. she has been the definition of extroverted and fearless until the last couple of months. we're not dealing with concerns about cows and ladybugs, but suddenly she's afraid to go down slides that she was crazy about even before she could walk. if she has to walk within a few feet of someone else (even another kid) to get where she wants to go in a store, she insists i come with her and hold her hand. these and similar fears have me scratching my head. i'm happy to skip the slides and hold hands when she wants to, but it's so out of character that i've wondered if i should be worried about the sudden shift. the developmental explanation makes a lot of sense. thanks for sharing.

I agree with other posters that these fears cannot be reasoned with at this age, just part of emotional development. We sometimes put up the "magic shield" around our house at bedtime to keep all those pesky animals and monsters out--it just takes a little abracadabra incantation, and voila. I'm also very firm about telling anything not allowed in our house to leave immediately (monsters, you are not allowed in here, leave right now please!) and that seems to work well. Finally, the few times that my daughter has woken up from a nightmare, I comfort her and tell her she's been sleeping on the wrong side of her pillowcase; we flip it over to the "good dream" side and luckily she doesn't have a problem going back to sleep. Your ladybugs in the bath sounds a little challenging.... how about a new and exciting bubble bath? Fun, and maybe it could has magical properties to keep the bugs away.

My little boy became very scared of the bath (in general - ladybugs or not). The fear went away very quickly when I went out and got some new and very cool bath toys. Since 'bath toys' can only be played with IN the tub, he soon forgot about his fear all together. Good luck....funny stages

My son is periodically afraid of lightning in his bedroom. He loves using spray bottles (we have big and small) and while I didn't actually need to do it I offered to find a recipe for a special spray that would keep lightning away that he could spray in his room before bed (of course this would be water). This might be a way to "clean" the bathtub before bath time to ensure that there are not more ladybugs. I have to say, however, that I really like the dancing options - we might have to come up with a lightning dance.

My 3 year old daughter was terrified of monkeys when she was 2 1/2. She had a nightmare one night, and for the next 3 months, had to check for monkeys in every room, and would not enter the playroom for fear of monkeys. I kept assuring her that there were no monkeys in our house, only in the jungle or the zoo, but had to repeat this about 100 times per day. After awhile, it faded away, but it was trying. I did not remove monkey things from her room, such as her clock which is shaped like a monkey. I did not think it was a good idea to rearrange our lives for her phobia. She never even mentioned the clock. And she continued to watch curious George. It wasn't fake monkeys she was worried about, it was the real thing. She had to process and process this. Sometimes she needs to process that there are no lions at preschool still, and sometimes she will discuss this from her bed when she is supposed to be sleeping!

You can't reason with a 2YO. Just play along and make it into a game. And whatever you do, don't look too obsessively at it, like it's some kind of deep-seated emotional issue. (Not that you were doing that. Just sayin'.) Coddling and "talking about the issue" just makes it worse. Then the child realizes that she has power! Power that keeps her out of the bath and keeps her up later at night!

No, it's best for mommy or daddy to just use their magic powers and take care of the scary thing. There have been some great ideas mentioned already.

It's just a stage.

--Mom to 3 kids

I've been feeling guilty lately....because I've been using my daughter's fears to get her to go to sleep! My husband started it--he'd suddenly say "OH my god a monster!" and she'd snuggle up & hold still & presto she'd fall asleep. Now that she's weaned it's really hard to get her to hold still long enough for her eyes to close & the monster story really helps sometimes.

So far I've never had issues of fears with my daughters (4&2) but then I've always managed to come up with a "magic trick" to whisk any offending thing away. Give the child the power to send away the creepy things--like in Totoro when they laugh and the dustbunnies fly away.

Funny thing is, early in the summer we had quite a few moths in our house...I hear it's a problem for others in Portland as well, and I had to catch the ones in my daughter's room and get them out (usually just over to my room where they would later just fly back to her room). Sometimes, she would call to me from the crib and tell me that there was another moth (some nights I caught up to 4) but I would go in there and not be able to find it, so I would do the fake moth catching thing and then the fake release...it would seem to work. But the moths were real. I think the monkeys were just as real to her as the moths. I feel so much better reading that this is normal for the 2.5 year old set. It can't be a coincidence. Anyone else deal with REAL spiders in the bathroom? We scoop them out before bathtime because we don't want floating surprised in the bath water (I am nearly a Jane-ist...I don't believe in killing bugs and I believe they have a place in our home, although not in our food! :)).

My cousin had a similar problem with her 3 y.o. son. But his problem was bees. So... she took him to Target... and together they found a "bee fighting watch". She explained to him that as long as he was wearing it... no bees would get him. He wore it everywhere he went. In the bath.. to bed... and it worked... and eventually he took it off and has never mentioned it since.

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