Helping Connor Handle His Fears

I had written a while back about the substantial amount of fear Connor was dealing with regarding dogs and thought I would do an update. I don't think this is necessarily something people want to read about, but I am writing about it to remind myself if we walk through something similar again with another child and I am writing about it in case some other mom is going through the same thing.

You see, it feels rather lonely when your kid has a substantial, life altering fear. No matter what I said, most people didn't realize how crippling the fear has been to our family. Not until they experienced Connor in the throws of the fear did they realize. And to be honest, the thing that helped me as a mom was talking to another mom who walked through something similar with her son. She gave me advice and encouragement. And she understood what it felt like to have a seemingly small fear control your house...and make you think pretty wacky things at times, like wanting to move to escape the fear.

So Connor's fear is specifically about dogs, barking dogs. He would freak out when he heard a dog bark, even if it was streets away from our house. It started out small and in all honesty, I think if we had dealt with it more aggressively sooner, maybe it wouldn't have gotten so bad. But who knows. Our neighbor's dogs bark all-the-time. It really is annoying, to say the least (though the worst offender recently had to be put to sleep, so that has helped).

At the height of Connor's fear, he wouldn't step foot in over half of our house, wouldn't go in the backyard and would only sleep in our bed with us. It was pretty exhausting. After writing about it before, I took into account Rachael's suggestion and we started "interpreting" what the dog's were saying when they barked. At first this didn't seem to change things, but now it is really helping. We also switched Connor and Isla's rooms as Connor's original room is right next to the dogs...and he was refusing to go into his room for anything. And we bought one of those things that make a high pitch noise when dogs bark...between this and the worst barker being gone, we don't hear much from our immediate neighbor's dogs anymore.

In all honestly, what seems to have helped the most was Connor went to stay with my parents for 3 days a couple weeks back. When he got back into town, he was much better. He is back to going in the whole house. He will even be in his room all by himself. And we have gotten him to go in the backyard with us. He does run inside and stay inside for a few minutes every time a dog barks, but he has gotten so much better. Even the other day a dog barked when he was right next to the fence. He freaked out and ran inside to be comforted. But, I was able to calm him down in the matter of seconds. And my favorite reaction of Connor's happened the other day when Connor was in bed. A dog started barking and he ran out of his room, came to me and asked me to pray for him. It warmed this mama's heart.

Though I don't think this whole dog barking thing is totally behind us, it has gotten so much better and isn't controlling our every moment at home anymore and for that I truly am thankful.


  1. So glad Rachael's suggestion was helpful! On the surface, the fear seems so small. But like you said, it's had a huge impact on your family. As Connor grows, hopefully his maturity will help the fear disappear.

  2. Oh Jessica, I'm so sorry that you have to go through this. I am so, so glad that it seems to have gotten a bit better and I'm THRILLED that something I said helped, even a little. I hope that the next update on this will be even more improvement.


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