15 Irrational Kid Fears (That Aren’t So Irrational)

My seven-year-old son Owen is going through a fearful phase right now. And while some of his fears totally make sense, others are a little…irrational. Which can be frustrating when he is too scared to walk past a mirror or even glance at a doll’s face.

But when I remember back to my own childhood, I feel a lot more sympathetic. As a kid, I remember clearly being terrified that there was a man in a top hat and handlebar mustache standing on stilts outside my bedroom window. I was also afraid of accidentally swallowing my own tongue (Thanks, Ripley’s Believe it or Not!) and for some reason, had a phobia about chewing gum while using the toilet.

Here are 15 kid fears that seem irrational…but put yourself in your kids’ shoes, and they begin to make a lot of sense.

  • 15 Irrational Kid Fears (that aren’t so irrational) 1 of 17
    kids' irrational fears
  • Shadows 2 of 17

    Remember lying in bed watching shadows grow on your wall as cars went past your window, certain that they were going to turn into living things that would gobble you up in the night? Oh, you say, that just happened last night?

  • Mirrors. 3 of 17
    owen - mirror

    If an older child ever told you the story of "Bloody Mary" when you were a tot, perhaps you understand my son Owen's terror of mirrors. He hasn't voluntarily looked in one for months, people. 

  • Loud Noises 4 of 17

    When I was a little kid I hated anything noisy - fireworks, parades, circuses. And why not?  Does it even make sense that we would consider loud booms, bangs, and ear-splitting shrieks to be FUN? 

  • BEES! 5 of 17

    BEEEES! I spent my early childhood absolutely terrified of bees (though I never got stung until I was in my teens and had mostly moved past my paranoia.) Two of my kids have followed suit, and one is so spooked by the buzzy little guys that he won't go outside during what the non-specific time of year he terms "bee season." Of course, there was the time his older brother was attacked by yellow jackets and got 15+ stings. I guess being afraid of winged, stinging creatures isn't really so silly. 

  • Closets 6 of 17

    Ahh, closets. So practical for storing clothes and toys. So freaking terrifying at night, when there could be any number of monsters, goblins and vampires living inside. 

  • Flushing toilets. 7 of 17

    After using the bathroom, my four-year-old daughter washes her hands, opens the door, assumes a sprinter's stance, and THEN flushes the toilet after which she immediately runs away as fast as she can, screaming. Sure, I laugh, but is it really so crazy to think you could get sucked in and wind up in the sewer?

  • Graveyards 8 of 17

    Lately my boys have been holding their breath whenever we pass a cemetery, due to some superstition that states that otherwise, a ghost will eat their souls or something. Owen pointed out that this is much harder to do on foot, but he gives it a valiant effort anyway. As a grownup, I've gotten so used to graveyards that I hardly give them a second thought, but when you think about all those dead people in one place, it's more than a little spooky. 

  • Thunderstorms 9 of 17

    Whenever my kids get all nervous about a thunderstorm, I inwardly scoff...until I see lightning like this. Then I want to hide under the bed, too.

  • Santa Claus 10 of 17

    "Merry Christmas, kid. HO, HO, HO." The very idea that we expect our kids to warm up to some alcoholic-looking stranger and even climb up on his lap is pretty ridiculous, isn't it?

  • Escalators 11 of 17

    Ever stood there with a kid who can't quite make up his mind to step on the escalator, already? I always thought it was silly until I heard about people losing toes on them. Now even I step gingerly on and hop off as soon as I can. 

  • Windows 12 of 17

    Windows are one of my son's biggest fears. He won't walk past one after dark if he can help it. As a kid, I kept my shades tightly drawn and would never so much as peek out a window after the sun set. After all, you never know what kind of terrifying face might be looking back in at you. 

  • Clowns 13 of 17
    Irrational Kid Fears, clowns

    Need I say more?

  • Vacuum cleaners 14 of 17

    They suck up socks, marbles, and Cheerios. Why couldn't they suck up an entire child-sized leg?

  • The bathtub drain. 15 of 17

    I think most kids go through a period of fearing the bathtub drain. When you think about it, any large hole that can empty an entire tub of water in a few minutes is pretty creepy.

  • Dolls. Creepy, creepy dolls. 16 of 17

    Personally, I love dolls! Or I did, until I saw these ones. 

  • New Item 17 17 of 17
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