Overcoming His Fear of the Subway

There was a time not so long ago that Emory was terrified of the subway. All we’d have to do is get near an entrance and he’d begin screaming, “NO CHOO-CHOO! NO, MAMA!” Whenever Toby Joe left for work, he’d ask that he not ride the choo-choo. And on several occasions we’d wake in the middle of the night to him screaming about it. It was a little sad.

Something had to be done. It’s downright impossible to live in New York City and not use the MTA. The subway is a must. My son was going to have overcome his fear. But how?

We’ve been working on him slowly over time. At first we just talked about it a lot. Toby would get home from work and talk about how great the choo-choo was. (Which is hilarious for reasons I’m sure you are all aware.) We’d discuss its tracks and where it would take us. We told him there was nothing to be afraid of. We compared them to Thomas and his brood. And then we started taking him on it again.

At first, he was guarded and pensive. But we talked him through it and once he was on, all was well. That took a couple of weekends of riding it together as a family.

On Saturday, we set out early to see the ice skaters and tree at Rockefeller Center. We rode the L train to 6th Avenue and then the F Train uptown. He loved it. He loved every minute of it. When we arrived at our destination, he didn’t care about the tree or the skaters; he wanted to continue riding the choo-choo.

My son’s fear has folded in on itself and has turned into a passion. Instead of throwing fits for suggesting he ride the subway, he’s throwing fits when we’re done for the day.

Now, Mama has to overcome her biggest fear: maneuvering toddler and stroller all by myself, up those stairs, and safely.


  1. First off your little boy is ADORABLE! 2nd i can only imagine how hard it is to manuver strollers and such to the subway! Congrats on getting him on the choo choo!


  2. That’s so encouraging that he was able to conquer that fear!! What a great job parenting you guys did and what a brave little boy he is!!


  3. Awesome job Em!

    And Mihow, I will keep you (and the stroller/toddler “fun”) in my thoughts!

    I also like your approach to helping him overcome his fears.


  4. you have the cutiest family


  5. Emory looks so cute in his little winter coat and he is so brave to overcome his fear.

    It’s lovely to hear that he now sees the Subway as a fun place to be and not a scary one.

    Do you think you could come to London to help me overcome my fear of the Tube?!!!


  6. i love this, taking on the joys on NYC


  7. Michele, You’ll soon learn which stations have street-to-platform access and just stick to those. Coop is obsessed with the subway, and knows which line is what (not just the letter, but that, say, the G is the “Brooklyn Queens Crosstown Local”). Can I also suggest taking Emory to the Transit Museum? It’s across the street from us in Brooklyn, $5 to get in, totally hands on, and so. much. fun. He will love it especially now with his newfound love of the subway. You can go on all the old trains and they have replica buses too. Super gift shop too. Cooper has eleven of the trains now and drags them everywhere. We could meet up with you there if you want!


  8. Michele, do you have an Ergo carrier (soft backpack)? Sadly, I no longer live in NYC but when I visit I pack my daughter into the Ergo and she loves it. It’s a little extra weight to maneuver (she’s about 30 pounds) but sooo much easier than messing with the stroller!

    And yay, Em! What a brave (and handsome!) little guy.


  9. That first pic of your guy might be the cutest thing ever! My son loves hearing stories about me riding the tube in London, sadly we have nothing as exciting in Utah.


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