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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Ask a Dad

Stranger Anxiety

It seems like every Tom, Dick, and Sally deem it appropriate to comment on my child’s outward appearance. “Oh, I love her outfit.” “Oh, she’s so adorable.” “Oh, the mere sight of your child’s unprecedented beauty has been a profound life altering experience for me.” I don’t understand why people can’t just mind their own business and stop gawking. Geez, so many looky-loo's.

Lately, Emi has been manifesting signs of stranger anxiety. She recoils when strangers approach. I’m not sure why this happens as neither nature nor nurture can be attributed to such behavior, I think.

It becomes difficult to teach your children to conquer this type of anxiety, especially when you, yourself, harbor the same debilitating phobia. It’s not that I dislike people. I’m quite fond of them actually. I live with some. I only fear unfamiliar people with the potential to express discontent toward me. Unfortunately, occurrences of Emi’s reluctance toward strangers exacerbates my own phobia, causing me to panic and flee many social situations. However, when it comes to teaching your children life lessons, I’ve found you can often utilize what doctors might refer to as “self afflicting delusions” to help your children overcome their worst fears.

Whenever a stranger approaches and I feel Emi retreating behind my legs, instead of fleeing or forcing myself to interact, I treat it as an opportunity to expose Emi to her fears. I simply pick her up, place her in front of me, and I take five steps back. I then quickly throw the stranger a bag of Emi’s favorite crackers, and while avoiding eye contact, I instruct that person to offer a cracker to Emi.

So far, this has caused more confusion and embarrassment for all parties involved. But I think success is just around the corner and only requires a more succinct explanation on my part. As a committed and loving parent, I am, of course, willing to put forth the necessary patience and perseverance required to get it right…for the sake of my child.


Happy New Year!!

Tyler H is a guest blogger and father to Emi. The Three Bay B Chicks have asked him to shed light on a Dad’s point of view under the stern supervision of his loving wife. If you have a question for Ask A Dad, feel free to submit it in the comments section. The Three Bay B Chicks are not responsible for Tyler's "advice."
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Lori said...

If anyone knows how to reach Tom Cruise... please forward this post to him!!


My favorite Ask A Dad post yet! When my babies were babies I Almost put a sign on their strollers that said please don't touch. Some strangers are downright Bold about touching other people's babies. Don't even get me started about the ones that feel it's ok to rub a pregnant tummy. Not a genie lamp y'all. Just Sayin. LOL!!

Blessings, Carolynn

Deb said...

Stranger anxiety is something I can't really fight in my kids. I'm the most shy member of our family, so I'm sorry to say I can't really empathize...my kids are the ones smoothing my awkwardness, rather than the other way around.

*Monica said...

Excellent plan, throwin the crackers. I love Ask A Dad.

Chris said...

I too am a little freaked out when strangers, especially men, come up to us at a restaurant and comment on how beautiful and well behaved my girls are. I can't seem to get past that he may be stalking us or something. As a dad of three girls, I'm ok with the stranger anxiety, but you're right, eventually that's gonna have to change.

Kristina P. said...

I love Ask a Dad! What a great idea!

Aquaspce said...

Too funny! In any case, it might hinder the said stranger to think twice the next time he/she approaches a baby

Kimmy said...

That's great! I suffer from that same phobia. It's my husband that I tend to stand behind though...hahaha!!

Jules AF said...

There are certain maxims that allow people to talk to strangers:
1) children
2) something weird dealing with you (like broken foot or head bandage or something)
3) Something like a dog.

Okay I don't remember them all that well.... It was a long time ago. But yeah, whenever strangers talk to me, I place them under a category.

The Blonde Duck said...

LoL! That's funny. Happy New Year!

Heidi said...

What do you expect when you have such a cutie-patootie little girl? You'll just have to get used to it, I suspect.

Carol said...

I don't know if I have the guts to tell a stranger to feed my kid out of the blue like that. And I'm totally stranger-friendly. I'll talk to anyone anywhere. 'Cause I'm THAT stranger.

Strangers are usually much nicer to us than are the people we live with.

Anonymous said...

I always tended to shy away from stranger contact too and my kids both did. I wonder if they were picking up vibes from me?

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

I wish my oldest had some stranger anxiety. Rather, he looks at them as a stage, where he can practice his latest comedy routine.
Cute post and good insight. I have the problem where strangers comment on how "big" my 2 year old is.

Jo said...

I haven't ever tried this technique, although I will keep it in the back of my head should I ever need it, along with how to hide under your school desk from a nuclear attack. Ah, those were the good ole days!

Nadine said...

Our oldest (almost 3) has a little stranger anxiety. I love the idea of throwing the crackers, LOL! Their favorite treats are definitely a way to open them up.

Heather of the EO said...

You're hilarious. I'm totally going to try this and see what happens. My youngest LOVES any kind of food so I'm pretty sure he'd fall in love with anyone who had some.

It works for my dog too.

Anonymous said...

Given the amount of people that suffer from phobias in the world it's surprising there are not more places online to offer help and advice but there is help to be found at Ofear The Fear & Phobia Forum You will find people from all over the world giving helpful advice as well as specialists from hypnotherapists, psychotherapists and mental health nurses offering their expert knowledge about phobias.

Breanne said...

You didn't mention your crouching, timid posture crumpled up against the corner of two walls in the background behind Emi. I'm sure that won't have any effect of increase in her stranger anxiety whatsoever.