DC, a pretty good kid for a one-year-old, was really afraid last week when I was walking with him outside. It didn’t happen all the time… but sometimes he would “really” latch on to me. Sometimes it was like DC was trying to crawl over my shoulder to get behind me. I turned and looked… but I couldn’t see anything that could have possibly scared him. No bees, wasps, spiders… no dogs or cats hiding in the bushes. No scary birds in the trees. After it happened a few more times… I noticed the pattern of his “latching” on to me.
His fear happened when I got close to trees and flowers. Specifically, within about a foot of the tree leaves… or within a foot of the flowers. Without traumatizing him (I hope) I moved closer to a few trees, and then closer to a few flower bushes. Yes indeed, the trees and the flowers were responsible for his fear. Keep in mind, DC shows no signs of physical or verbal abuse. Without abuse being a factor, what could possibly make DC afraid of tree leaves and flowers?
I talked to my wife about it, and a few days later when we were at a park, she held DC and approached a tree that had a low hanging branch. Yes, DC was indeed still afraid of trees even when my wife was holding him. What the heck was going on??
Well, my wife is pretty… and my wife is also “pretty smart.” When DC first came into foster care she noticed his skin was really pale. Through my wife’s deduction (technically, she used inductive reasoning) we guessed that DC had never seen a tree up close, or flowers, because he had not been outside much. To him the leaves and the flowers probably looked like a giant moving monsters because he had never really seen them up close before.
Solution. My wife swung DC in her arms, making sure DC was laughing. My wife slowly got closer and closer to the low hanging tree branch with DC. While DC was laughing, she made sure his body brushed against the leaves. Within a few moments DC was laughing and pulling on the tree leaves. He needs to be reminded a few more times that trees are not scary, but it was great to see him not trying to climb over our shoulders to get away from the trees. I think my wife’s solution was brilliant.
What would you do if you had a kid who was afraid of trees and flowers?