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Anxiety and Stress Disorders (Children)

Child's Driving Anxiety

06/05/2006

Question:

My friend has a child that is afraid to get lost when she is riding in the car with, well anyone. She is constantly reading aloud the exit signs and bringing to everyones attention where they are at each landmark. She is afraid to go on a trip with her family because she is afraid that they will get lost. While her parents have "gotten lost" from a wrong turn, for example, she has never experienced anything traumatic. We all take a wrong turn from time to time and still get where we are going, but she is convinced that whoever is driving will get lost. Her parents need some tips to help her, and them, deal with the problem so that everyone is more comfortable in the car. Any ideas?

Answer:

Probably the child you mention has problems in other areas with other fears as well but this particular one is relatively easy to deal with.  Most long trips involve "maps" and "trip-ticks" which could be shared with the child before the journey and can even be given to the child (depending up age) to act as "guide" during the trip.  Probably other fears of bad things happening to the family are also a part of this child's past.  Providing effective external aids to overcome fear is probably the best strategy, but fears are often irrational obsessions.  Calm, persistent reassurance is often necessary. 

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Response by:

Floyd R Sallee, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati