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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10547
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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My four year old daughter is terrified of adults who are not

Customer Question

My four year old daughter is terrified of adults who are not in her family. I am a stay at home mom, so she hasn't attended daycare or had a babysitter who isn't family. She started ballet class this week and wouldn't/couldn't leave my side because she was so afraid of the teacher. I tried to get her to come with me and do the class with me near her, but she curled up on the chair and hid.
She'll be starting preschool this fall, and I'm afraid she'll be clinging to my leg when I try to leave her. Her normal personality at home is silly, happy and goofy. She gets along with other children whom she isn't familiar with, just seems to be afraid of adults.
When I ask her why she won't talk to people, even with mommy or daddy there, she just says she's scared. This even happens with adults that she has met a few times. I try to encourage her and tell her she can be brave, I also tell her that she is safe and no one is going to hurt her. I just have no idea how to help her get over this fear.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 9 months ago.

*This website DOES NOT constitute treatment and only provides information and advice in a Q&A format. For treatment (therapy and/or medications) you must go to a licensed professional in your area. Please note that anything said here is not private or confidential, as this is a public forum.

Hello and thank you for using JustAnswer. Having a fear like this is perfectly normal as many children have similar fears of unfamiliar adults. This fear is typically called Stranger Anxiety. What you are going to have to do is continue to have interactions with non-family member adults in a variety of settings. You can allow her to have a small toy or stuffed animal with her that may give her "strength" and help her to get passed these situations. Eventually you want to gradually leave her in a safe environment with a non-familial adult for a limited time (start off with 10 minutes) and then gradually increase the time you are gone for. She will vent, cry, and have a temper tantrum, but she will get through it as she will recognize that she is safe and will not be harmed. Unfortunately if this Stranger Anxiety continues, worsens, or does not respond to standard practices than seeing a Child psychologist may be in order.

Expert:  Dr. Z replied 8 months ago.

Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns as I would be happy to continue assisting you regarding this issue.

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