Since my boy started Kindergarten there has been a gradual change that is simply outside of my sphere of understanding. He seems to have some great fear of almost everything and a general obsession about how other people perceive him, with an assumption that it is negative. He is older because of his birthday and performs very well in class.
The is how upset and worried he becomes about anything (like sleep) that lies outside of the realm of his direct control.
This is probably something to do with age and awareness, but that does not really help him, or me, much.
Has anyone dealt with this type of ongoing fear? I was not classically popular, but that had a great deal to do with disinterest. I had my friends.
I am concerned that being raised by Atheist's and surrounded by Christians does not make things easier.
How does one teach self-esteem and self-reliance without creating an anti-social or entitlement attitude? Not due to a lack of religion or esteem to the invisible, but in any attempt to promote self at this age.
I explain scientific answers that he can see (breathing and heart beating without thinking about it) but that does not seem to calm him.
There is nothing wrong with him, and I don't want to give him the sense that there is with testing or something like that. It is just not something I've been able to address well. Any suggestions or resources?

Tags: Fear, Self-Reliance, Sleeplessness

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Sometimes it just helps to have someone acknowledge and recognize our fear - not necessarily agree with it or try to rationalize it away, just to say "Life can be scary sometimes" or "Oh, you're worried about what the kids at school think" (The book "How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk" goes into this a lot more and has been a huge help for me)

Has he been evaluated by a child psychiatrist? I have OCD which can lead to some of the uncontrolled fears you describe, and didn't get a diagnosis till 21. I'm not saying you're son has OCD - most people display certain symptoms of it from time to time, but a relatively small proportion of us actually have the disorder itself interrupting daily life. But a child psychiatrist may be able to give you a better understanding and offer further suggestions. You can research for one in your area with good patient manner. My son has had lots of developmental testing and many of the specialists he's worked with have very comfortable offices, lots of great toys, and administer tests that perform more like play. I'm hoping this passes quickly and that you both come through it stronger and closer.
Another endorsement of the book Angie mentions in her post. Acknowledgement goes a long way...
And a fourth for that book. I like Alfie Kohn, too, but I've read only Unconditional Parenting. Anyway, that gets off topic as far as the fears go.

I've read on another list that around this age, many kids go through an "irrational" fear stage, so I think it probably is normal. Like Angie, I have OCD, and I had the most imaginative fears as a child that no amount of rationalizing could take away. What I ended up doing at the time was trying to find things I could control, which sometimes meant making elaborate plans to prepare for the possibility of my fears coming true (psycho killer hiding in closet with knife, I do this; psycho killer hiding in closet with gun, I do this; psycho killer comes through bedroom door instead, I do this, etc.). Can you use this as a chance to work through each scenario with him and discuss all the possibilities, including what he can control and what he can't? Then try to help him focus on what he can control. (And try this without judging any of the scenarios, no matter how unlikely they may seem.) This is good practice for how to deal with anxieties in general, even when there isn't a scientific explanation to apply.

I grew up in a very critical family as well, and this contributed to my fears about what others would think of me. Consider how you model your interactions with people. Not what you say to him or about him, but the cues he might pick up on. Does he see you being overly deferential or anxious about people? Not as a blame thing--kids pick up on the most subtle things sometimes. How about others in your life? My niece picked up on some weird habits from her grandparents of all people.

Good luck. Let us know if anything seems to work.

I agree with the above. Would also like to suggest that when he is in school (if you have the time available) volunteer in your son's class from time to time, there are many benefits to this.

I feel for your son, for mine he was the youngest in his class so a bit of a reversal there.


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