How do I help a six year old overcome her fear of the vacuum cleaner?

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My six year old daughter is terrified of the vacuum cleaner. She runs and hides every time it is out. How can I help her get used to it? I thought she would have outgrown her fear by now.

Many children are afraid of noisy machines. Usually the outgrow the fears but not always. My 12 year old daughter has been terrified of everything from the blender to lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, and most of all vacuum cleaners since she was tiny. It wasn’t until she was 10 that I could get her anywhere near a vacuum cleaner. She and the dog used to go hide together as far away from wherever I was vacuuming as they could get. She still makes faces and tries to avoid them but I found ways to cut into her abject terror of them. I used a desensitization technique to get her to where she can at least tolerate them and actually use one. It is basically getting her used to the vacuum in slow patient steps. I began by showing her what was inside the beater bars under the vacuum cleaner. I had to reassure her that the vacuum was unplugged and would not turn while I was showing her. That first time I only had her look. I didn’t try to make her touch it. I explained to her numerous times over a long period that as her mother I would not even let her near it if I thought it would somehow injure her. She had gotten used to the blender, lawnmower and other loud noises, so I explained to her that the lawnmower was in fact far more dangerous with its sharp blades than the vacuum was. As long as she didn’t do something stupid like stick something up into it, she would be fine. Gradually through repeated explanations and slowly having her do things like sit in the room while I vacuumed but safely up on the couch or on a high chair, she started to calm some and get used to it. I would warn her when I was ready to turn it on, so she could prepare herself. As she progressed I had her begin to take control and stand pushing the vacuum cleaner while it wasn’t plugged in. Then I had her turn it on and off quickly other times. I showed her how to hold the cord safely and finally had her try pushing it a few feet while it was turned on. Eventually all the patient slow steps got her to where she can now help vacuum rooms in the house. This was not a quick desensitization process with her and it took a long time, but in the end after a lot of stalls and endless patience it worked . Think of it as teaching a child baby steps to walk when you feel like you are running out of patience and remember this is a real fear to her, like a nightmare. Be patient, work with her and she will overcome her fear. Mama Nono

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The answer to "How do I help a six year old overcome her fear of the vacuum cleaner?"

Question asked on October 29, 2008at 8:57 pm:: Comments (0)
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