I recently saw a show about phobias. In it, a grown man — a big, tall, masculine looking guy — was brought to his knees by the sight of a puppy.
It’s not surprising if you consider that many phobias begin in childhood, usually as a result of a harrowing ordeal. In this case, the man had been bitten by a dog when he was very young and felt incapable of protecting himself.
But how do you know if your child’s fear is normal? It’s relatively common for children to be scared to sleep alone, and be afraid of the dark or clowns (although clowns creep out many of us, too!). Sometimes children will exhibit “avoidance, discomfort, and physical complaints, such as rapid heart beat, stomach distress, sweaty palms, or trembling.” The Child Anxiety Network estimates that 90 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 14 have at least one specific fear. But if the fear is not interfering with daily life (sleep, school, or social activities), your kids probably don’t need any outside help.
Here are some very common fears, broken down by age:
Infants/Toddlers (ages 0-2 years): loud noises, strangers, separation from parents, large objects.
Preschoolers (3-6 years): imaginary figures (e.g., ghosts, monsters, supernatural beings), the dark, noises, sleeping alone, thunder, floods.
School Age/Teens (7-16 years): more realistic fears, e.g., physical injury, health, school performance, death, thunderstorms, earthquakes, floods.
While these are common, there are many fears that are unusual. Although fear of puppies and dogs might seem extreme to many of us, there are even stranger fears and phobias.
Here is a list of some not-so-common childhood fears:
Do your children have any of these fears? Do they fear anything you find strange?
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