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I have been noticing lately that Eleanor is very sensitive to loud noises. If she hears a car outside, she will run to me, saying, "No! No! No! Fast car, mommy! No!" If the dogs suddenly start barking and run to the window, she will get a terrified look on her face and run to me, saying, "No! No! Neighbor! (because they're usually barking at the neighbor) No, mommy!" If she hears a train in the distance, she will say, "No, mommy! Choo choo coming! No!"
She seems especially sensitive when people are making the loud noises. If we're out playing at the park or somewhere else, she will be totally fearless, climbing and sliding on everything. As soon as a kid starts running and yelling or laughing, she will cling to me, telling me, "No! No! No!" Some of it seems to be emotion-related. If she hears a kid crying in the distance, she will say, "No, mommy! Sad!" If she hears and adult yelling, she will say, "Mad, mommy! No!" And if someone screams, she says, "Scared, mommy! No!" I think she is describing how the person screaming feels, although she is obviously scared too.
Today we were playing at an indoor playplace and she was being super brave. Climbing up and into tunnels, going down slides by herself, basically playing really independently with the other kids. Then she was in a tunnel, and a little boy yelled (just playing). She started screaming and crying and I had to climb up to get her. Then every time she saw the little boy, she would say, "No, mommy! Mad! Mad guy!"
Whenever she gets upset about loud noises, I try to tell her that she heard a loud noise and it scared her, but the car or choo choo or whatever is just going by, that sometimes there are loud noises, but it's okay, and she's safe. And if it seems emotion related, I will tell her something like, "Yes, you heard that mommy yell and she sounded mad. Sometimes people get mad, but in a minute, they feel better, and everyone is happy again." She does listen and seem to understand my explanations, but she will still be clingy after that.
Do you think this is just a normal phase or a normal part of her personality, or could she be dealing with some sensory or social processing issues? Or is she just able to recognize and vocalize emotions earlier than most kids, so it seems like a bigger issue than it would if she wasn't so verbal?
I am no Doctor but I would think she is going through a phase. See if she out grows it maybe. When she becomes more aware of these noises she will start to remember them and maybe they will not bother her.
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It MIGHT be a sensory issue, but I don't mean that is in a definite diagnosis. Just that it's good you notice it and can look for other signs that it's sensory. I think the way you handle now is fine. It may help to try to help her regain control by teaching her how she can find quiet again, if she wants, if you think she would understand. you could tell her "If it gets loud, come to me and we will find quiet." My son uses headphones when it gets too loud. Or sometimes just going to another room is enough. Eventually he went through a phase where he didn't want the headphones and didn't want to move but still didn't like the noise, and he knew he had to choose what he wanted to deal with, and now 90% of the time he chooses to deal with the noise. Some people think you should force a kid to "Get used to it" but honestly, if it's sensory, those kids will desensitize some, but it will ALWAYS bother them, and they NEED to know coping methods. Sometimes "just dealing with it" is a coping method, but sometimes removing yourself from a situation needs to be done, and I rather a child feel like that is an option than to completely shut down. It's different for every kid, though. Doesn't sound like she for sure has sensory issues, but keep that in the back of your mind and see if you notice anything else that makes you want to look into that possibility more.
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