Neophobia. That’s what Wikipedia calls it. I don’t think Hannah has a bad case, but I think she got it bad. If that makes sense. Wikipedia defines neophobia as “the persistent and abnormal fear of anything new. In its milder form, it can manifest as the unwillingness to try new things or break from routine. Mild manifestations are often present in young children (who want the small portion of the world that they “know” to remain constant) and elderly people (who often cope using long established habits and don’t want to learn “new tricks”).”
Now the reason I say Hannah doesn’t have a bad case is because her fear doesn’t extend to the fear of new experiences, in fact she loves trying new things and has a much more adventurous streak than her brother does. However, after 2 ½ years I have just realized that she has this unnatural fear for new things, more especially clothes and food (although if it’s chocolates or sweets or medicine, she will wolf it down without even letting her taste buds get a woof of it). I’ve always put it down to the fact that she just isn’t a girly-girl and doesn’t like to be fussed around when it comes to clothes and shoes. Then I thought she just had her own taste and didn’t like any of the clothing or shoes I had chosen, hence the tantrum. But recently, I’ve noticed that she goes bat poo crazy when she has to wear ANYTHING new. Even if we make a huge fuss about how wonderful her new slippers or skirt are and how gorgeous she will look in them, the moment I want to put them on her, she goes crazy. Even if I let her choose her own clothes in the store, she STILL cries when it’s time to wear them.
Due to her potty training, I recently moved her from the press-stud vests to big girl vests. Even THIS was too much for her, although I have had to insist because it’s a bit hard to go potty, when you’re tied in tight by a onesie! She is wearing shoes that don’t fit, because she refuses to wear any of the brand spanking new shoes in her cupboard. I try to buy clothes that look similar to what’s currently in her wardrobe, hoping that she doesn’t notice the difference, and we’ve just stopped making a fuss of anything new, hoping that she won’t notice. This is easy when you’re buying leggings or plain t shirts or everyday clothes, but once it comes to dressing up, it becomes a mission. She won’t wear any of the pretty little dresses I have bought her for Summer, she is wearing her last year’s dresses which now fit more like t shirts than dresses. The only shoes she ever wants to wear are her pink and white sneakers. It will be 32 degrees outside, but she will insist on wearing these takkies. I was fortunate enough to find a very similar pair when she outgrew the older pair, but only in two sizes up, which means she clogs around in these too big shoes, but I figure it’s better than wearing the old pair that squash her toes. Either way, I don’t think it’s exactly healthy to wear ill fitting shoes, right? We are still wearing Winter pyjamas in this heat, because she refuses to touch any of the new cute nighties I’ve bought for her. Out of all 378 panties she has, she will only wear the same four or five which all look similar.
She is such a picky eater; if something looks foreign on her plate she refuses to eat it without even trying it. Sometimes she’ll try it purely because she sees Liam eating it, but most times she’ll refuse point blank. Thank goodness this level of strangeness is fairly new so she has been exposed to and is comfortable with a broad range of foods including fruit and veggies which she loves. But don’t let me try any new recipes in the kitchen, EVEN if the ingredients look familiar to her, if the dish is prepared differently to what she is used to, you may as well break out a packet of Two Minute Noodles because this child won’t touch it.
Now my question. How do I go about “fixing” this? And do I even need to fix it? I do understand the need for familiarity and consistency in children, it gives them a sense of security but there has to be a limit to letting your three year old wear 18 – 24 month sized clothing, and looking like a baby hobo. Is Hannah a Neophobe? As I said, I’m confused because her personality/nature does not lean towards being introverted or easily scared. She is outgoing, adapts easily and doesn’t mind new environments or experiences… she just likes boring food and wearing old clothes.
I’m not concerned, it just makes me wonder – like how does that little mind of hers tick? As frustrating and time consuming as this strange quirk is, I do hope it lasts to adulthood. Can you imagine the money I’ll save on clothing when all the other teenagers are begging their parents for name brands and 13 year old Hannah is still wearing her worn jeans from Grade 1, eating her Two Minute Noodles from her Dora Explorer lunch box. Strange one, this child of mine.