Helping a Child Face Her Fears

Recently my husband drove by some abandoned houses that were being town down. My son, ever inquisitive, asked about them, so my husband explained that they had broken down and weren’t safe. He also mentioned that, eventually, all houses get old and break down.

The next night, while the hubby was not home, I was putting the kids to bed when Sass started crying. She was scared that the house was going to break down. I, having not been there when this conversation happened, had no idea what was going on. All Sass would tell me was that Daddy told her the house would break down. The poor thing was so scared she was afraid to sleep. She genuinely thought the house was going to fall down around her ears. We called Daddy and eventually she calmed down enough to sleep.

I managed to NOT kill my husband when he got home. I mean, why, WHY would you tell a 3-year-old that her house was going to break down? I realize that he was talking to Buddy, but they were both in that car. For a little girl whose sense of time means that anything that happened before today was yesterday, even if it was a year ago, and anything that is going to happen after today is tomorrow, this was a problem. I couldn’t rationalize with her that when the house got old it would be a long, long time away. This went on for several nights. She would cry at bedtime and sometimes during the day would mention that our house was going to break down. When it didn’t get better after a few nights I knew I needed to find a creative solution or she was going to be afraid for a very long time.

I decided she needed to see for herself that the house was safe because all of my reassurances and Daddy’s reassurances that we keep the house safe and we wouldn’t let her sleep in an unsafe house were going nowhere. So before bed Sass, Buddy and Daddy walked around the house and knocked on all the walls, doors, floors, everything. They checked every room (save the basement) and you know what? It worked! She went to bed that night secure in the knowledge that our house was safe. We haven’t heard another peep about the house breaking down.

I really happy I found a good solution to alleviate her fears and that she’s not scared any more. I also hope my husband will be a little more careful next time he explains something like that so as not to freak her our so much. It was certainly a good learning experience for both of us.

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