Strangers (and quasi-strangers)

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from medfordcc. Show medfordcc's posts

    Strangers (and quasi-strangers)

    I am struggling with stranger fear.  She's 18 months and has never been keen on strangers, since about 8 months old.  This includes people she's met before but not frequently, including extended family.  That's fine and normal and it is what it is.
    But yesterday she was in the stroller and we ran into my work friend.  He didn't get up in her face at all, but did get down to her level to say hello, and she completely fell apart.  Like, silent scream and then turned into a super scream with wild eyed terror.  He was really quiet and not too close and I was standing right there next to him (although I didn't crouch down).
    It just seemed a little over the top.  I'm wondering how to structure interactions with strangers so that she doesn't get so upset, yet she starts to get more used to it.  FWIW, she's fine being near other people - like yesterday we went to a sing along and it was totally mobbed with kids and caregivers and it didn't bother her in the least, although she does tend to stick with me and observe for a while before venturing forth.  But it doesn't upset her.  It's mostly when someone addresses her directly.
    Any thoughts/wisdom?
     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from newcarsmelly. Show newcarsmelly's posts

    Re: Strangers (and quasi-strangers)

    Wow this exactly like my DD! She has always been leary of strangers and I feel it peaked around 13-14 months. We have had that same complete meltdown scenario a couple times. It's so not nice - for DD and for the person just trying to be friendly! However I did notice that my DD is most feared of men (and in particular bald men! which makes her very bald godfather very sad! :)). That started around 5-6 months old. Have you noticed any pattern like that?
    Now at 22 months - I think she's gotten a bit better but is still leary in stores and around a lot of adults. Kids don't seem to bother her, even in large groups. She's been in daycare 2 - 3 days/week since she was 4 months old and I feel that has helped. However, I do try to coax her to say hello or smile or wave goodbye to people in stores. Also we've travelled quite a bit and try to do lots of different activities and I think just being in "new" situations helps a bit, as well.
    One other thing I've tried is asking her to give high fives or fist pumps to men, just to break the ice but I ususally  have to hold her or she might run over and do it and then right back to me. Also, if I see she's really leary of someone, sometimes I will hug the person to show her that they are okay and that I like them. (She really understands the concept of hugs.)
    There have been times that I find it is best to just leave her alone and let her break the ice on her own. That's difficult in the situation you described earlier but I have been known to tell strangers that it's best to just smile but leave her alone. I think she likes to be in 'control' and will acknowledge when she's good and ready.
    I do feel it's something that's gotten better over the past few months but yeah, it's def. a work in progress. HTH and GL!!
     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from medfordcc. Show medfordcc's posts

    Re: Strangers (and quasi-strangers)

    Thank you so much!!  It's great to hear I'm not the only one.  :)
    YES, it is exactly the same for us - men are the ones most likely to get the crying.  Especially big men, and especially clean shaven.  (Her beloved Daddy is kind of short and has a beard.)  I have a harder time predicting which women she will take to quickly.  Some she resists and some she smiles at right away.  I've never seen her get upset about another baby/kid approaching her, but she often brushes them off.  They say she's very happy at daycare and I see that too when I spy at pick up time.
    It does not seem to bother her at all to be around a lot of people (stores, restaurants, story time, parties, whatever).  She watches everybody or plays and does her own thing.  But if somebody comes up to talk to her, that's when we (might) have a problem.
    Perhaps I should get a sign: do not approach the baby!  :)
    But I like your suggestions - play it cool, let her do her own thing, encourage high fives, waves, et cetera.  I think maybe when she's in the stroller like that, I should get down there too if someone else does?  So that I'm part of the interaction?  We'll see.  Mostly I'm glad to hear that you have a similar situation and that you're dealing with it so calmly.  Thanks for your insights!
     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from Redsoxfan76. Show Redsoxfan76's posts

    Re: Strangers (and quasi-strangers)

    This happened with my DD this weekend. She is 12 mo so not exactly in your DDs age range but it happened when she was in her stroller and my husband's very large best friend bent down to say hi as we got into the elevator to go up to his condo. I thought at first it was the elevator - being trapped in a small room with a large dude in her face. But she had the same reaction - silent scream erupting into very loud wails of terror and giant tears. Weird!

    I took her out of her stroller and she almost immediately calmed down. Maybe it is a feeling of being trapped there? I don't know but it worked for me. And FWIW, she is also totally fine and social at daycare and even in stores. She does tend to say hi to women more, now that I think about it though...
     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from purplecow89. Show purplecow89's posts

    Re: Strangers (and quasi-strangers)

    One of my daughter's friends did this...until nearly age four.  Turns out she'd never actually spoken directly with any adult other than Mom, Dad, or Grandma.  She was used to Mom "translating" for her all the time.  I mean, all the time, even with other playgroup moms she'd known all her life.  I'm sure it was unintentional to do it past the age "Jane" could talk, but the upshot was a kid in complete hysterics when a waiter spoke to her directly, to the point where she and Mom had to sit in the ladies' room doing their comfort ritual for twenty minutes.

    I doubt anyone in this group does it to that extent, and you have to "translate" before they can talk anyway.  But start to transition into mediating or modeling instead.  "Let's say hi to the lady who said hello to us.  Hello, how are you today?"  let them see you shake hands or make small talk or whatever is appropriate in the situation.  They will get used to the idea that it's OK to greet people in one's environment.

    I think getting down to their level with the person is a good idea--if the person is seen as being "with you" then they are more likely to be seen as OK.

    And when they are old enough to discuss the whole "stranger danger" thing, don't go overboard.  The person ahead of you in the world's longest grocery line who chats about how you both seem to like bananas is not someone to be mortally afraid of.  Besides, they are with you.
     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from winter09wedding. Show winter09wedding's posts

    Re: Strangers (and quasi-strangers)

    HI medford- my DS is the same age, and we get the same response sometimes- although it isn't always consistent.

    I have found that when I get to his level first, and explain who the person is, that he tends to do better. so sometimes, when we are planning to see someone he may/may not remember, we do a lot of talking before it happens, and then when it happens we do that thing where I squat down and kind of hug him from behind- so he can look at the person, and I say "remember we talked about..."  But when I run into people, I will say "oh look who it is- we should stop and say hi" and prompt him to wave or whatever, so he knows that it isn't a secretly planned event, and I am not leaving him with anyone.

    I have also found that if we talk about gma babysitting, he will start crying when she gets there because he knows what to anticipate... so perhaps that is another reason she gets upset- not knowing what the person is there for?

    Daycare I feel is different, because most of the kids know whose mommy belongs to who. DS will actually bring items of the other kids to the parents- but there isn't a threat there- they don't ever take him home. same with playgroups. but with people like the doctor- I talk, they talk, and then there is all this poking and other stuff.

    as for specific facial features... I have some freudian ideas but not much else. hope that helps.
     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from lissafro. Show lissafro's posts

    Re: Strangers (and quasi-strangers)

    Kids' brains are a mystery.  My DD is very verbal but very shy with new people and situations.  Now that she's older it's seeming like that is a good thing, since she's automatically good about sticking by me in public and looking to see if I'm still around.

    DH has a manual-labor job so he wears very dirty work boots, jeans or dickies, carhart jacket, etc. to work.  Also, the man shaves once a week if that, especially in the winter. 
    This has led to DD trusting any construction worker or homeless person she sees on the T, but being leery of men in suits and absolutely apoplectic when a nicely-dressed middle-aged woman talks to her. 
    I've also noticed that she really, really dislikes smelly people.  Not naturally smelly BO people (which she doesn't seem to mind), but highly-perfumed people. 
     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Strangers (and quasi-strangers)

    lissa, re the perfume, she might get a little ill from it; I did.  It gave me headaches when I was as little as I can remember, but I'm sure my mom didn't know it at the time.
     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from winter09wedding. Show winter09wedding's posts

    Re: Strangers (and quasi-strangers)

    lissa- that is hysterical.

    and so true about smells- my MIL is a smoker, and DS won't hug her.
     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from Redsoxfan76. Show Redsoxfan76's posts

    Re: Strangers (and quasi-strangers)

    In Response to Re: Strangers (and quasi-strangers):
    [QUOTE]This has led to DD trusting any construction worker or homeless person she sees on the T, but being leery of men in suits and absolutely apoplectic when a nicely-dressed middle-aged woman talks to her.  I've also noticed that she really, really dislikes smelly people.  Not naturally smelly BO people (which she doesn't seem to mind), but highly-perfumed people. 
    Posted by lissafro[/QUOTE]

    That is really funny. My brother smokes and DD always kind of backs away from him. I just kind of thought it was because he was a long-haired hippie. :)
     
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from medfordcc. Show medfordcc's posts

    Re: Strangers (and quasi-strangers)

    :)  Thanks, guys.  Good to hear these experiences, both for the advice and to know this is pretty common.  I had thought we were going past that stage a bit (especially because she actually didn't cry at the 18 month ped appt!) but I guess it's still a work in progress.
    Lissa, that's funny.  A lot of our friends' kids were *more* apprehensive about men with beards, but our LO is less so and I'm definitely convinced it's because her dad has one.
    Redsoxfan, I am thinking the same thing about the stroller.  When she's strapped in there, she has no recourse or control about where to go.  Next time, I'm definitely going to get down to her level and put my hand on her so she see's I'm part of the interaction.
    It's really important to me to make sure she's comfortable talking with store clerks, waitresses, et cetera as she gets older.  But it's also really important to me to help her practice doing it so it's comfortable and not scary.  I had a hard time speaking up loudly enough when I was a kid and I know how it feels.
     
  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from CT-DC. Show CT-DC's posts

    Re: Strangers (and quasi-strangers)

    When I was a teacher many years ago I had a toddler who LOVED all men with beards.  He called them all Santa - and I mean he LOVED them - our maintenance man had a beard and this little boy would stick so close to him when he did anything that the man would nearly trip on him....  he watched 'this old house' - yep, the host at that time (90s) had a beard....  if we were walking outside and a man with a beard walked by we had to make sure we were holding this boy's hand or he'd just start following "Santa".

    So, yes, children do recognize atributes they are comfortable with, or not.

    We had one 8-9 month old baby start to cry and hold he hands up to a mother who was doing a tour once - but once the mother got closer the baby had a really confused look on her face - this other woman did look VERY much like her mother at first glance from across the room, until she got closer. 
     
  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from medfordcc. Show medfordcc's posts

    Re: Strangers (and quasi-strangers)

    In Response to Re: Strangers (and quasi-strangers):
    [QUOTE]We had one 8-9 month old baby start to cry and hold he hands up to a mother who was doing a tour once - but once the mother got closer the baby had a really confused look on her face - this other woman did look VERY much like her mother at first glance from across the room, until she got closer. 
    Posted by CT-DC[/QUOTE]
    That's really funny.  I guess they had a mom touring at our daycare and my LO scooted right over and climbed into her lap.  (This was around 14-15 months.)
    I didn't see what she looked like, but the director was very faux-offended because it had taken *weeks* for my LO to warm up to her.
     
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from CT-DC. Show CT-DC's posts

    Re: Strangers (and quasi-strangers)

    Oh, yes, in every room there is usually one child who is going through huge stranger anxiety that either myself or the Asst. Dir can make cry just by making eye contact.  when I first started at the center, one child would become hysterical if I looked at him or approached him. I had a 'no touch, no talk, no eye contact' rule with him for about 2 months until he got over it....  and I'd not bring tours into that room because he couldn't handle it - and I'd warn any subs not to approach him for at least 30 minutes when they first entered the room.
     

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