you can't be afraid of people just because they look different
September 4, 2011 8:47 PM Subscribe
My 7-year old daughter is afraid of a child with a facial deformity at her school. Does anyone have suggestions for helping us overcome this?
posted by astrid to Human Relations (35 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
There is a younger boy at her school with pretty severe facial deformity (I haven't seen him but my husband has and says it is pretty bad). He's not in my daughter's class but he is in her day-care.
The problem is that she is afraid of him! She is very easily scared of things, especially creepy pictures of people (for example she wouldn't walk into a room that contained a drawing of a person with 4 eyes). She's afraid of looking at this boy and she's started wanting to avoid things where he might be, like a school play. She knows she's wrong to be afraid but keeps asking to stay home from these things so she won't have to see him.
I am trying to let her know that it's ok if she doesn't want to play with him, but it's not ok avoid him (and activities she likes!) because she is scared. Maybe we should force her to talk to him and see he's just like everyone else? If it's anything like previous things she's been afraid of, she will freak out and cry.
I am also trying not to make her feel too guilty about being scared, since she can't control her feelings.
Any recommendations on how to approach this? Books or movies about the topic? I brought up Disney's "Hunchback of Notre Dame" - she's seen it already and she seems to understand the lesson (everyone was afraid of Quasimodo because he looked different, but he was really a great person and saved the day!), but it doesn't help get rid of her fear.
While writing this out I realized I don't know how other kids at school respond to him...My daughter hasn't mentioned anyone making fun of him or bullying. I don't think this is something picked up from her peers, just a visceral scared reaction.