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Dr. Shirley Schaye
Dr. Shirley Schaye, Doctor
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1673
Experience:  PhD-Psych; Certif. Psychoanalyst NPAP& NYFS; Memb.APsaA;IPA; Pub.Author; Teach/Supervise Therapy
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My daughter is 5 years old. She has always had a fear of balloons

Resolved Question:

My daughter is 5 years old. She has always had a fear of balloons popping and people dressed up in costumes. She was recently caught by surprise at a children's party by a clown, which really frightened her. The fear of people in costumes has got dramatically worse, especially over Christmas whith people dressed up as Santa, elves etc. It has got to the point now where she is reluctant to go out if she thinks there could be someone dressed up. i.e. she does not want to go to the supermarket, or the local food markets. She feels physically ill if taken into a shopping centre for fear of someone in a costume.
We are trying to be as supportive and loving as possible, but I am not sure of the best way to help her through this. Do you have any tips???
Many thanks,
Ros
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Shirley Schaye replied 3 years ago.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Thank you for contacting Just Answer. I am so very sorry to hear about this. First are you able to elaborate a little so that I'll be in a better position to be of help. Do you know when this started and if you do, can you describe to me exactly what happened when you first noticed this.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Also, give me a time frame. Exactly how old was she when this first happened?

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Giving me these answers will help me in understanding what happened so that we may try to undo this.

Customer :

Since I can remember, she has always been frightened of balloons popping at parties. But regarding people in costumes, last year is the first time I remember a clear incident. She went to a children's party (at a centre for children's parties) and the centre mascot (which was someone dressed up as a cat wit a big cat's head, ie couldn't see their face) came into the room by surprise. Hilary (my daughter) was petrified and wanted to leave immediately. We talked about it and later met the person, in normal clothes to show her that it was just a normal person. Then a couple of months ago we went to a children's party at someone's home and found out a clown was going to come. She became immediately anxious so i took her outside. We heard the clown arrive (inside) and immediately she pannicked and tried to run away via the back fence. Unfortunately the clown had snuck around the back to surprise the children and confronted her directly. She was terrified, we left the party, and returned only when the clown had left. Last week my Mum took her to the shops to do christmas shopping and again she saw people in costumes. Now she is incredibly anxious and asks all sorts of detailed questions before she is prepared to leave the house. i.e are we going somewhere wherechildren go? Is it a shopping centre. When I took her to the local fruit and vegetable market she was shaking and visibly anxious (although she has never seen a perosn in costume there and normally likes the outing), she then said she felt like she was going to vomit so I took her back to the car, and told her i was proud of her for being so brave and getting out and walking aorund in the first place.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Ok, thank you so very much for letting me know this.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Let me say this to you --- what I learned from a child analyst supervisor more than thirty years ago. So here it is. Then, I'll transfer what I am going to say to your daughter's situation. Dr. Eppel was supervising me about a child who was afraid to get on the bus to go to school. I tried to analyze why. Dr. Eppel said, no Shirley, you are not going to be able to analyze why when there is a phobia. First of all children don't sit down and talk to you. You are going to have to unravel what is happening. So ... ... the only way to know how is for his mom to put him on the bus --- by forcing him --- no discussion --- his mom has to force him. Put him on the bus and then leave. But before she does that, she needs to get the assistance from the bus monitor &/or the bus driver to tell her exactly what his meltdown was about. Then and only then will you know what Robbie's phobia is about. Anyway, without digressing further you get the point. The phobia is not analyzable if you avoid what the child is phobic of. So you have to force the child to do what it is they are phobic about. They will then have a meltdown and you will with the help of a child therapist get to the root of the phobia. So this is not a bus. I would get someone to put on a costume, get someone else to write down exactly what she is having a meltdown about and then sit down and talk to her and show her there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. You could also have her put on a costume and show her there is nothing to be afraid of. I would do all this in conjunction with the help of a child therapist.

Customer :

I was considering hiring the clown to come to our house in normal clothes and get dressed up and put his make-up on in fornt of us, so she can see the clown being "constructed". Do you think this would help? Also, I am nervouse to take her to a child therapist as I don't want her to feel like she is "different"or that somehow her behaviour is äbnormal." Do you think this behavious still falls in the realm of normal childhood fears, or do you think it has really come time to get the help of a therapist? Probably sounds like a silly question.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

What a great idea!!!!!!! You are a great mom!!!!! I really mean that. Fantastic!!!!!!!!!. You know so many people think going to a therapist is for crazy people --- it's not. If she is having a problem and it falls into the realm of psychological, why not get help from the person who has expertise in that area. If your child had the flu, you'd think nothing of taking her to a paediatrician. So my answer to you is try the clown. If her meltdown is still over the top, remember everything that happened and take her to a child therapist. And if you're not comfortable sharing it with anybody else, you don't need to. It's your business!

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

My point --- is deal with it now while you still have control and don't let it escalate into something bigger.

Customer :

Thank you for your help. I will try the clown idea first and see how we go from there. Many thanks.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

You're welcome !! Happy New Year!! If you have no more questions please click on ACCEPT and please leave feedback. If you have more questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

Dr. Shirley Schaye, Doctor
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1673
Experience: PhD-Psych; Certif. Psychoanalyst NPAP& NYFS; Memb.APsaA;IPA; Pub.Author; Teach/Supervise Therapy
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Dr. Shirley Schaye
Dr. Shirley Schaye
Mental Health Professional
1673 Satisfied Customers
PhD-Psych; Certif. Psychoanalyst NPAP& NYFS; Memb.APsaA;IPA; Pub.Author; Teach/Supervise Therapy