Childhood Fears

When I was about four or five years old, my mom and stepdad rented a movie that I wasn’t allowed to watch with them. It was called The Amityville Horror, and I was instructed to play in my room while they watched it. Of course, being forbidden from watching the movie meant that I just HAD to see it. So I very cleverly figured out that if I “accidentally” bounced the rubber ball I was playing with out into the living room, then I’d at least be able to catch a glimpse of the forbidden movie.

Amityville Horror

And catch a glimpse I did. This glimpse.


And for the next several months (I’d have to ask my mom to find out exactly how long), I flat out REFUSED to flush a toilet. Nuh-uh, not gonna happen. (Of course, I was also the kid who as a toddler would flip out if you pulled the plug in the bathtub before I got out, because I was convinced I’d go down the drain – I actually have memories of being terrified of the water going down).

Clearly this was all preparation for my adult life, in which I’ve had to deal with toilet overflowing with disgustingness and snake gross stuff out of them more times than I can count, thanks to my kiddo with autism and his fascination with watching things swirl down the toilet.

Scary StoriesBut funny thing, I’m actually a HUGE fan of horror now – books and movies both. Heck, I even write scary stories myself. Maybe it was self-preservation – embracing that which you’re afraid of. I remember the school librarian reading a selection from “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” to my class in (I think) the 2nd grade, and LOVING the scary stories and illustrations. (Do a Google Image search on the book – those illustrations are STILL wonderfully creepy even as a grown-up). And I was reading Dean Koontz and Stephen King by the time I was ten (not with my mom’s knowledge, mind you).

My biggest fear as an adult is the fear of something bad happening to one of my kids – normal maternal anxiety heightened a bit by having lost two of my three younger sisters at young ages. Beyond that, I have mild phobias of needles and dentist’s offices (so OF COURSE I end up having dental issues requiring both needles AND multiple dentist appointments), and a somewhat larger phobia of creepy-crawly things in general (although centipedes top the list – have you ever SEEN one of those things up close? Uggghhhhh….)

As for my kids, other than a general fear of the dark, they’ve never had any long-lasting specific fears (knock on wood). My one-year-old is terrified by his immediate family wearing masks or anything that covers up part of their faces – people he doesn’t know are fine – but it’s too soon to tell if that’s going to grow into a serious fear or if he’s just being a one-year-old. I assume the latter.

What were you afraid of as a kid? And what fears have your kids had? And what’s your advice for helping kids overcome their fears?

11 thoughts on “Childhood Fears

  1. As a child, I watched lots of horror tv shows and movies but then was afraid to walk down the hall to the bathroom in the dark. Now as an adult, anything happening to my kids is my biggest fear!

  2. I was and still am afraid of the dark. Now I’m afraid of MRSA and other antibiotic resistant superbugs.

  3. First let me tell you how very sorry I am that you lost 2 of 3 sisters. When I lost first my baby sister I was in total shock and then my oldest sister 9 months later who left us quickly with breast cancer, I understand that it hurts. As a child, I suffered nightly from nightmares and it was always either someone chasing afer me while I ran with all my might, heart pounding and always woke up before they got to me. It was horrible! My mom said (my bed was against the wall) I kicked the walls all night and she looked at it as anger and meaness and said she was glad I got my meaness out in my sleep, so I’d be sweet like I was. I was raised in a large family of 8 girls and 1 boy. My older brother and 15 month older sister decided to mess with this little afraid child more by jumping out scaring me, telling me soemthing was going to get me, and doing a variety of things to me. So, my fear inside grew more deeply and even had a few things happen to me that should never happen to scare me. My best advice is never scare a child for any reason! I continued carryig that fear inside of me thoughout my adulthood and it is not fun. I’ve gotten somewhat better, finally over the pasr few years but it’s really been terrible. Living in fear of someone hurting you is scary! Out of three children, a son and fraternal twin girls, surpisingly only one turned out being afraid of the dark. They had to frow up with a Mom feeling afraid when their dad worked the night shift. Thankfully, the one who usedto feel afraid is pulling out of it at age 32. Better than her 55 year old mom. lol But, it is serious and I can’t say enough, “Never scare a child,” and when that much fear is displayed, take them to someone who can help them! If you don’t, it can last a lifetime.

    • I completely agree with you. Sometimes there’s a fine line between “fun” scaring and “scary” scaring, but you can always tell the difference by the child’s reaction. My one-year-old loves peek-a-boo or “mommy popping up from somewhere unexpectedly” types of games, but masks just terrify him. (Although I’m not sure if they still do, since we’ve never done it on purpose). And I have another child who’s afraid of the dark who has a neat collection of assorted night lights to help him out. (Which is fine unless the other kids find out about his fear because again, kids can be cruel).

      After the loss of my first sister (I was 2 years old, and she was 2 weeks old – SIDS), I started suffering from night terrors. I have no memory of them (which is normal regardless of age, I guess), but for years afterward I’d wake up in the middle of the night screaming in terror. And I was paranoid about checking on all four of my boys when they slept for the first year of their lives.

      • I’m nott even sure when mine did begin in childhood but the first incident that I can remember, I was 5 or 6 years old and just as I walked into our bathroom, a neighbor lady had called telling my mom that “there is a man standing outsid eyour bathroom window.” Of course, my mom yelled, ‘Debbie, get out of there. There’s a man at the window.” I ran, screamed, cried! My dad was at work, working evenings and nights. I think that incident terrified me so deeple, I never recovered from it. I didn’t like my dad being gone every night except on Saturday nights. One would think however, that I would not have been so afraid wit so many around me. I was the 6th child born of the nine. But, with mostly all girls and only one boy and with two of them scaring me continually for years-maybe that was even more damaging than I realize. Both have apologized many times but many times they poke fun about it too and it really isn’t funny. I would bury my head under the cover, smothering with the thought thhey wouldn’t see me so they couldn’t get me. Anyway, yes, sometimes there are just weird things that can happen while very young to devastate a child. Thank you for your response. You don’t need to reply. You are a busy gal! Have a nice afternoon!

    • Typo: They had to “grow” up; not frow up. lol

  4. LOL! I used to be afraid of heights and I still am. But I finally starting riding roller coasters when I was 16 and I love them now.

  5. I had a friend in junior high who would leave the Amityville Horror book in her locker at school and only read it there. She refused to take it home. And didn’t Joey on “Friends” have a scary book he used to keep in the freezer?

  6. I had a brother that was 12 years older than me. He was watching Poltergeist one night and I had to see what it was all about. Well, I came in on the part where the boy was being sucked in by the tree. My brother told me it was the same type of tree outside my window….I was 4 or 5… shortly after, my brother died a tragic death. I didn’t understand death, so I thought the tree ate him and of course, it was going to eat me. I was 11 years old before I slept in that room again. On a side note, I have the same Scary Stories to tell in the dark book… I learned to recite the “don’t ever laugh as a hearse goes by” in grade school. My 4 year old is terrified of a stone fire place, for some unknown reason. No real advice I have found that works. I just explain to him that there is nothing there, nothing coming out of there and there is nothing climbing on it.

  7. I was deathly afraid of clowns!

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