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“Any tips on how I can encourage my almost 3 year old not to be absolutely petrified of the vacuum cleaner? It’s been a problem for a while now and is not getting any better…. If anything, it’s may be worse!” Any tips for a child scared of the vacuum cleaner ?

Posted by Anon, 20/04/13

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  • My daughter started off being scared of the vacuum cleaner, now she does the vacuuming for me as she enjoys it :D


  • he vacuum cleaner (or any loud household item like a lawn mower or blender), from a toddler’s perspective, can look and sound pretty darn scary. Figuring out the reason for your toddler’s fear will help you help him cope in the most effective way.
    From fifteen months, children are entering the world of pretend which means they are starting to develop their imaginations. But they don’t yet understand the difference between fantasy and reality. For them, the vacuum cleaner really may be a monster.
    Temperament—your child’s individual way of approaching the world—may also be a factor. Children who are generally more fearful and cautious by nature are likely to find an object like the vacuum cleaner scary.
    When you think that the vacuum is a scary object for your child, you can simply not use it when he/she’s around. However, you can also find ways to help him/her learn to manage his/her fears—a very important skill to develop. At a time when you have no expectation of getting any cleaning done, bring the vacuum out. Then;
    Let your child explore it while it is off. Make it part of a game. See how many times you and he/she can run around it in one minute.
    Dress the vacuum up with silly hats and scarves. Make it talk in a funny voice.
    Have one of your child’s favorite stuffed animals slide down the vacuum. (Using humor can be very effective.)
    Have your child move it around while it’s unplugged (perhaps again as part of a game) so that he/she can feel like he/she’s the master of it.
    When you think your child is feeling very comfortable with it, ask him/her if he/she’s ready to turn it on. Perhaps your child wants to be in the next room and slowly move toward it.
    Buying a wee toy vacuum cleaner can help too.

    How children take in and respond to sensory input—such as light, sound, or touch—is also a factor. For example, when faced with the vacuum cleaner, some children are fascinated by the blaring noise, some totally fall apart, and yet others seem to hardly notice. If you find that your child is sensitive to other noises in his environment (i.e., prefers softer music, gets distressed in noisy places like the mall or grocery store), then your child needs two things from you:
    First, protect your child from this upsetting noise. Vacuum when your child is out taking a walk with his/her dad or have dad do the vacuuming when you’re out playing with your child.
    Help your child learn to adapt to unpleasant sounds that he/she will eventually be exposed to in his daily life. So introduce him/her slowly to new and different sounds but stop when he/she begins to show distress. Over time you will help his/her system handle sounds that are now overwhelming him/her. There are also noise reducing ear phones n the market which may help.
    With time, rest assured, your child will conquer the vacuum cleaner and move onto bigger “dragons”.


  • let the child have a little play around with it, like holding it. If it has some different suction settings, maybe put it on low so that it is not as noisy.


  • Mine was terrified of the vacuum too, but as she grew she learnt that it wasn’t going to harm her.


  • I agree that you should let her have a go and she’ll see that the vacuum cannot hurt her.


  • Mine were a little petrified. I did let them have a play. Even they got to bring dirt in and sprinkle. Now at 9 and 6 they still jump on a chair but don’t scream.


  • Let her have a go at vacuuming and then she might realise it’s not going to hurt her.


  • These are good answers! It was very interesting reading the comments on this!


  • You could remove them from the situation. Bit hard to not have the child around every time you vacuum though. All I can see you doing to solve it is to keep using it. Maybe leave it out and let 3 yo play on it while not in use. Use it in daily short bursts might help too


  • the males in our house hate the vacumn cleaner noise, if it was left up to them, it would never get done.
    can your daughter play outside safely where you can check on her easily while you do it a room at a time checking on her inbetween. I used to put my kids in another room while I vacumned.


  • wait til he is asleep! or try a robot one?


  • leave it out in the lounge when it is off and unplugged and they will play with it and then you can tell them that you will turn it on and get them to help


  • My daughter went through this. In the end we sat down with it and looked at all parts in the tube etc, making it fun until she was ready to turn it on, with the help of her favourite snuggle. She still doesn’t like the noise at age six but she isn’t scared anymore.


  • I think you just have to make it fun, maybe get some ping pong balls and make a game up. If your little one really is not going to have a barr of it maybe some earmuffs are the answer


  • Piggy back rides while you vacuum. turn music up loud and sing and dance along to her favourite songs as you go to drown out the sound, then after a few times when and if she is comfortable with it, start turning down the music while still singing and dancing along just ignoring the fact the vacuum is going


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