Nothing outdoors would have been possible this week without this tip to help my toddler overcome her fear of bugs. This was not my clever idea. It actually came from my therapist who is helping me work through Shah’s death. I was telling her we could no longer be outside because said toddler could spot a bug 50 feet away and every time she saw one she would scream and have a break down.
Outdoors was nearly impossible for us. It was easier to play in the big free rain than to play outdoors when the bugs were anywhere to be seen.
So how did we overcome these freak outs? We gave her a squirt bottle. On Monday evening we went outside with the squirt bottle to squirt the bugs. Suddenly, she was empowered. Thirty some minutes of squirting and she had dropped the squirt bottle and just started telling the bugs, “BOO.” The mountains of North Carolina are very buggy, but Zoya has been calm as a cucumber. Most of the bugs have been ignored. A few times she has asked me to get rid of a bug, but with a calmness I’ve never seen before.
My child is not an food person, so I can’t bribe her with food and I don’t like to bribe (oh yeah, I mean reward) with TV. Even her love for the hose and the pool was not motivating her to be outside without screaming and crying at every bug.
But, the empowerment of a $1 squirt bottle did the trick. Her hands are not even big enough to really aim the thing. It doesn’t matter. Somehow the ability, even imagined ability, to do something about the bugs made them less terrifying and so now we can peacefully co-exist again on this planet.