My 3 year old today didn't want to go out anywhere that required the car. She seems very scared and anxious suddenly of the car and keeps suggesting we walk to the places I suggest we go.
Nothing has happened to suddenly scare her of our car or cars in general. I am sure she hasn't seen anything on TV to scare her. She does however seem to have nightmares regularly (been ongoing for a while now). The last time she was in a car was 5 days ago (because I have been home sick with a bad cold), there were no problem or issue then. I have tried to get her to explain but she will only say she is scared and work herself up. She did not even want to go to the park and play with her best friend today (which we drive to) because of it which worries me because that is very unusual for her. Not sure how to handle this if it continues because we do need to use our car due to where we live.
If there's no reason why you feel she should be scared of the car and there's not been any obvious cause then it's fair to just continue as you usually do. Be very matter of fact and no nonsense about how you respond to her anxiety; too much reassurance for a worried child can actually backfire because they can perceive that there really is something to be concerned about. If you've reassured her and explained all is fine then try something else and without ignoring her, just give very "bored" responses to her when she's winding up.
You could try a gradual exposure game with her by just sitting in the parked car and then parking on the road and then driving around the block and gradually driving for longer distances if you want to.
And the other useful strategy may be lots of praise for when she's ok with being in the car and this always helps in terms of seeing more of the positive behaviours in children and adults too for that matter.
Perhaps she is getting motion sick in the car and is unable to describe this? In which case you may want to think about when she last ate and when you're in the car with her and avoiding her looking at a book when she's in the car.
21 Jun 2014