Fear of Crowd
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
I was able to have my daughter Effie seen by a Child
Behavioral Development Doctor but was not satisfied with the
result. She just asked me about the condition I was when I
was pregnant, some details regarding Effie's school. She did
not ask my child to do something that she may evaluate her
after (like for instance build blocks, write or read the
alphabets or letters, sing or dance, or even ask questions).
She's always directing questions at me. I remembered her
saying that she is very advance in her cognitive skills but
she just based it from the answers we, my sister and I, gave to
She advised us to strictly impose to our child to mingle
with her age group since this is what's good for her. She
even said that she have been very manipulative thus her
teacher asks her to do things she likes to do (like set
placemats before recess time, or stamp stars on her/her
classmates palms) instead of giving the responsibility to
other students. I believe the teacher do this since she
knows that Effie bores easily after doing repetitive tasks
that she knows already. Have I been right in sending her to
Also Dr. Sandhu, Just this October, I have a hard time
sending her to school. She doesn't feel like going already.
Also, she hates and cries being in a crowd, even with
relatives she know already. Is this connected to being
A: A child behavioral
development doctor is quite different from a child
psychologist, whom you should really see for your concerns.
Developmentally, Effie appears to be doing well, hence the
evaluation by the doctor. The doctor's advice to get Effie
to mingle with her age group is clearly on a developmental
point of view, which is fair. Perhaps, the word that should
have been used is "encourage" and not "strictly impose".
What the teachers are doing is fine, as they have a better
idea on how to help her learn simply because they are in a
position that allows them to constantly watch her progress
at school. As long as Effie and the teachers are not
complaining, there should not be a concern.
Schooling for a child who may not be very socially adept may
pose a problem. But before that, you must ask yourself if
she is socially, emotionally, physically, and cognitively
ready to participate in a daily, structured, educational
program with a group of other children? This may not be
related to giftedness as it can be the case for any child.
In this case, you need to find out the reason, especially if
this is a sudden change. Speak to the teachers and monitor
her behavior. Request her teachers to give her a little more
You also mentioned that she hates being in a crowd. Perhaps
Effie feels anxious about crowds, and this is very normal.
This is a sign that her development is on the right track as
it is part of a child's cognitive and emotional development.
Although you may feel that she has been better before (less
anxious), this is because as she matured, she becomes better
attuned to her surroundings. This in turn makes her react to
stresses that she was perhaps barely aware of a few months
However, pleasing her by allowing her to have it her way is
not a solution. You may need to slowly encourage her to
mingle a little more. Take her to the park or other places
with people (outdoor places with a lot of space) to help her
be more comfortable in a crowd. After some time, you will
see that she becomes more and more comfortable in crowded
places. Prepare her when she sees new people and help dispel
her fears. Say, if you are visiting a relative or going for
a party, prepare her with the familiar people she may see.
Describe them, maybe mentioning that that person will be
wearing a very nice dress, maybe something related to
Effie's favorite color. When Effie realizes that this person
is not wearing what you had said, you could get that
relative/friend to play along saying that some sauce had
stained it or just create a story and you will be surprised
that with time Effie would join in the conversation.
Lastly, take it slow. Gifted children may somewhat find it
more difficult to adjust in school due to their sensitive
and perfectionist nature. So, allow her to develop as
naturally as possible with a lot of help from yourself and
some from her teachers. This fear is indeed perfectly normal
for young kids and will almost certainly fade as they mature
and begin to gain more control over their feelings.