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Ask the Expert: Easing child’s worries about kidnapping

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Ask the Expert: Easing child’s worries about kidnapping

Post  Annabel on Tue 28 Jan - 10:46

http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/health-family/parenting/ask-the-expert-easing-child-s-worries-about-kidnapping-1.1669495

Q We hope you may be able to help: our eight-year-old daughter has recently developed a fear of being kidnapped to the extent that she will now not sleep on her own or even go upstairs without someone going with her (preferably my husband or me).

She has also developed some facial tics which may be related to this new anxiety. She is, and has always been, a sunny child, gets on great with her two sisters (aged 10 and 12), has lots of friends and interests and is doing really well in school. We also live in a safe area and family life is very happy and stable.

We are not sure where this is coming from, except that the Madeleine
McCann case was in the news before Christmas and she is also participating in the very worthwhile Stay Safe programme in school (which warns against stranger danger, etc).

We try to reassure her and not make a big deal of it and, for example, have moved her bed into her sister’s room for a while. We are hoping she will grow out of it but would appreciate some advice on whether we are doing the right thing or what else we should do so that this fear doesn’t develop further or that she becomes an anxious or withdrawn child over time.

A Though childhood fears and phobias usually have a specific trigger, frequently their cause is quite non-specific and could be related to developmental changes and growing up.

At eight years of age your daughter is getting older and becoming more aware of dangers in the world. She is probably more aware of the bad news stories that are everywhere and may be particularly sensitive to the worries these evoke in everyone.

A big child abduction story such as the case of Madeleine McCann can cause everyone to worry and take stock. It feeds into parental worst fears about what can happen to their children and also can cause children to worry about similar bad things happening to them.

Though, thankfully, abductions and kidnappings are extremely rare, the human mind is not rational when it comes to assessing risk and, instead, excessive anxiety can be triggered.

This is especially the case for children with sensitive personalities or who have a predisposition to worry or being anxious. The facial tics you have observed are most likely to represent a nervous behaviour caused by worry and stress she is experiencing.

The good news is that there is a lot you can do to help your daughter. Anxious children are usually very co-operative and can be easily supported to tackle their worries.

In addition, they often have vivid imaginations (employed against themselves in worry to visualise negative outcomes) that you can draw upon to help them imagine new ways of coping. Below are a few specific strategies that might help.


Support and reassure her
The first step is to be very supportive towards her about her fears and to listen carefully to what she says. Encourage her to talk about her worries and to express her feelings.

Be careful about becoming frustrated and dismissing her worries as this can make her feel bad about being anxious which, in turn, can escalate her anxiety. Instead, aim to be empathetic and show you understand how she is feeling, while also being reassuring that she is safe and well.



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Re: Ask the Expert: Easing child’s worries about kidnapping

Post  Panda on Tue 28 Jan - 10:53

Thanks Annabel,

WOW.....
"We are not sure where this is coming from, except that the Madeleine
McCann case was in the news before Christmas and she is also participating in the very worthwhile Stay Safe programme in school (which warns against stranger danger, etc)."

Gerry has a close affinity to Ireland....bet the McCanns won't like this.  

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Re: Ask the Expert: Easing child’s worries about kidnapping

Post  mara thon on Tue 28 Jan - 11:17

Perhaps they should impress upon their child that they would never leave her alone night after night as poor Madeleine was left, that would go a long long way to curing the child´s fears.

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Re: Ask the Expert: Easing child’s worries about kidnapping

Post  jinvta on Wed 29 Jan - 6:30

Another victim of the McCann circus. Surely this child, and others like her, will need some psychological counseling to get over her fears. Unlike the twins of course, who are doing perfectly fine but her parents are suing Amaral for distress caused by his book on their behalf, with no evidence of distress whatsoever!

If anyone should be suing anyone, it should be this family suing the McCanns because their negligence and subsequent actions has caused this little girl to have an overwhelming fear of abduction. It is so sad how many have become innocent victims of the McCann machine.

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Re: Ask the Expert: Easing child’s worries about kidnapping

Post  Guest on Wed 29 Jan - 8:42

They managed to completely ruin Shrek 3 for my two, and two of the neighbours' kids.   

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Re: Ask the Expert: Easing child’s worries about kidnapping

Post  interested on Wed 29 Jan - 20:24

I've often wondered if Amelie and Sean McCann experience any anxiety now about being left with Madeleine when she went "missing" after their parents dined elsewhere.

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Re: Ask the Expert: Easing child’s worries about kidnapping

Post  widowan on Thu 30 Jan - 21:43

interested wrote:I've often wondered if Amelie and Sean McCann experience any anxiety now about being left with Madeleine when she went "missing" after their parents dined elsewhere.

They would have to be thinking of that at some point. If these burglars and pedo rings are so terrible and bad, then they were in the same room with the twins stealing their sister while they slept. I think there would be a lot of fear, anxiety as well as guilt - and blame of the parents or at least thinking, that could have been me/us as well.

When something like this happens in a family it does do lasting damage - more so than the parents being "falsely accused" then "totally exonerated" as McCanns would have us believe is the case. So if Amaral's book harmed the twins, how much more did being left in the situation they found themselves in damage them? And that is down to no one but Kate and Gerry.

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