33
   

How fearful were you as a child?

 
 
dlowan
 
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 05:35 am
NOT of things that were actually happening...but of things you worried MIGHT happen?

You know...how much did you worry that your parents were going to die? That your house would be broken into and you or your family hurt? That you would be struck by lightning? That the world was going to end in nuclear holocaust? That you would die in your sleep...that kind of thing.

(So...this is not a thread in which I am wanting people to talk about anything that actually happened.)

We were talking today about how much dread is "normally" experienced by children.....not readily understood dread, where kids are in situations where they are being abused, or where they are in the middle of armed conflicts and suchlike....but the fear of something terrible happening.

I am often struck by how much fear the kids I talk to experience without telling anyone......like the fears mentioned above, or fears that they are not loved...this in families which are pretty safe and loving.

I know I worried a lot as a little kid about nuclear war, about vague horrors, about being invaded (WW II was still a BIG topic of conversation and it was the cold war), about being killed by some intruder.....of course, when I was tiny, there were those pesky monsters under the bed, too! I also found it extremely hard to cope with the idea of anything suffering.

My sense is that lots of kids worry a lot more than many parents realise.


What about you?

Did your parents know if you worried a lot?

Did/could they help you?

Did anything help you?
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Type: Question • Score: 33 • Views: 11,170 • Replies: 122

 
patiodog
 
  2  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 05:52 am
I don't recall worrying about abstract horrors at all, to tell you the truth. For what it's worth.
dlowan
 
  3  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 06:05 am
@patiodog,
Cool!

Calm, confident, pup, then?
Bi-Polar Bear
 
  2  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 06:19 am
@dlowan,
I was afraid of vampires, witches and the devil as a small boy.
OmSigDAVID
 
  2  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 06:57 am
@dlowan,
Up to age 8, I was not afraid,
except as to occasional concerns about street brawling
with other kids my age in my neighborhood in NY.

Then I left NY and went to Arizona.
I moved into a crime-free neighborhood; never any trouble,
but I was alone at home a lot, and a little uneasy about defending
my house from criminal intrusion, if I ever had to do so; (I never did).

My tensions were relieved after I won a .38 caliber revolver,
in a poker game with some other kids, when one used it to cover a raise.
After that I felt confident and tranquil,
except that I felt ill-at-ease, in the back of my mind
about the commies trying to enslave the world.

I had no fear of lightning, nor of nuclear war.

Quote:
Did anything help you?

A Model 36 Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolver.
I took it everywhere.

During the First Gulf War, I was seeing a young lady
named Arlene, who had a boy who was around 9
at that time. It was explained to me that he was
in a state of emotional distress concerning his personal
safety from Saddam. I was prevailed upon to explain
to him that America was out of range of Saddam 's SCUD
missles, and that he 'd have used them on us already,
if he possibly coud have. I added that I was sure that
Saddam had never heard of Forest Hills, so he could bear
no malevolence against them. I think it worked.





David
dlowan
 
  3  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 07:53 am
@Bi-Polar Bear,
Were you raised in an aggressively christian household???
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 07:54 am
@OmSigDAVID,
I am speechless.




By the way.....the non-fearul people's responses are just as valuable to me.
Cliff Hanger
 
  2  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 08:12 am
@dlowan,
As a child I was a walking worry machine-- both real and imagined worries-- growing up I got into a lot of unecessary trouble because of it. Now, I just manage it better.
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 08:13 am
The only thing I really remember being fearful of was car crashes. I have no idea why - I was never in a car crash as a kid and don't remember ever seeing a really horrid crash -- but I never felt safe riding in a car. I didn't learn to drive until I was well into my 20s and I still hate driving. I'm not afraid to ride in cars or to drive anymore but I don't enjoy it.

Mo worries about everything and I mean everything. His school had a field trip to the art museum yesterday and he worried for a week that the building was going to be "too big". He was vague about why the size of the building made him feel nervous. He will find some little thing to worry about in just about any situation.

For us, preparation is the key to easing the fears. We talk and talk and I try to realistically address all of the things he can think up about what could go wrong.
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 08:23 am
@dlowan,
I was highly anxious as a child. K was/is highly anxious. The uncanny thing that I noticed in her as an infant/toddler was that her list of fears mirrored my own.

Dogs and bees especially. With K it was anything she couldn't predict. A balloon that might pop, a dog that might jump/bite, an insect that might sting... She also has a very strong anxiety about being abandoned. She learned to crawl early so that she could follow me from room to room. Neither she nor I handle change very well. I don't remember my own early childhood of course but if she was naked she hated getting dressed, if she was dressed she hated getting undressed. Baths were hell -- she couldn't stand going from being dry to getting wet. We finally gave up on baths altogether and washed her with a wet washcloth until she was old enough to sit up in a ring in the tub. Once she had some ability to control the situation she was fine.

She has tackled many of her anxieties over the years as have I. We are both still generally anxious by nature. I sometimes jokingly refer to her as my velcro-child but it's true. She has recently moved away to college and is having a very hard time adjusting to being away from home.
0 Replies
 
Eva
 
  2  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 08:31 am
@dlowan,
Well, of course there were the monsters under the bed...and the monsters in the forbidden locked closet in my room...and the ghosts behind the attic access panel in my closet. And the threat of nuclear destruction. And tornadoes. And heights. And covered bridges. All ordinary stuff, though. I don't think I was any more fearful than average.

SonofEva has always been a very secure child, but even he was terrified that there were monsters behind the drawn shower curtain in his bathroom. That's why he always insisted it be left open. (I just found this out through one of his creative writing assignments.)

I do believe that most children have deeper fears than adults. Perhaps it comes from the lack of control over their world. Or more unbridled imaginations.
Eva
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 08:43 am
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:
Did your parents know if you worried a lot?

Did/could they help you?

Did anything help you?


My parents looked under the bed and in the closets for me several times I remember. After that, they just dismissed my fears and told me to go to sleep. I knew it was just my imagination, so nothing they said or did helped anyway.

I invented routines that would "exorcise" the monsters...turn over 3 times, pull blanket over head (no dangling hands or feet!!!), say a special incantation, and the monsters became afraid and left. I put heavy stuff against the attic access panel (ghosts are thin and transparent, obviously not very strong.) And a towel under the door of the forbidden closet, so nothing could escape. It worked...I'm still here!!! Laughing

I had to close my eyes very tightly and hold my breath whenever we crossed a covered bridge. (This is how superstitions get started, I think.)
0 Replies
 
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 08:53 am
@dlowan,
I had a pretty carefree childhood, shielded from any worries my parents have
had. In our neighborhood most people left their doors open, we kids were
playing outside until dusk and no one worried about burglars, being kidnapped
or otherwise hurt.
I was afraid of snakes though - unfounded as we didn't have any in the city,
but my grandmother used to tell me "fairy tales" of rivers with snakes in them
where the bad guys were thrown into. Gosh, she would make millions today
as a horror fiction writer....
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 08:58 am
I remember the first time I worried about dying. I am not sure my age, but I would say around kindergarten or first grade. We were driving by a cemetery and I could see that they digging a grave. Wham! It hit me " I would die some day and then it would end. I lost a lot of sleep with this worrying. My parents never knew I worried about it and I never brought it up to them. I eventually got over it, but I would say it was huge for me.

More recently, my younger daughter at 5 was worried her heart would stop beating and she would die. My older daughter had read something to her about a girl that had died (I forget what was cause), but my little girl once screamed in the car " call 9-1-1! We nearly had a heart attack ourselves. Then she said, my heart stopped beating. We talked with her about it and finally one day she announced she was no longer worried about her heart not beating.

My daughters do seem to bring things up to me which I think does help them " I can tell it doesn’t completely stop the worrying, but at least they are more calmed by it and it helps them deal with things. Which is much more than I had " for whatever reason I do not remember ever discussing worries with my parents " I think I may have been afraid they would tease me or make fun of my worries. Fortunately for me and my children, it doesn’t appear they have an issue with bringing the same sort worries to me.
0 Replies
 
CalamityJane
 
  2  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 09:07 am
@CalamityJane,
As for my daughter, she is kind of worry free too, and she loves to read horror
fiction. When she was younger, we used to leave a night light on when she felt a bit uneasy, that's about it.

JPB's post made me re- think if being fearful is something you're born into or
Since JPB was a fearful child and her daughter is from an early age on too,
she couldn't have transmitted her fears into the child. Interesting!


JPB
 
  3  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 09:22 am
@CalamityJane,
I once read an article that said newborn nursery nurses could predict from the first bath whether a child was overly anxious. Mr B watched the nurses give K her first bath and said she was "purple with hysterics" and saw the nurses give each other "a look". I read the article not all that long ago and recalled his comment from when she was born.
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 09:37 am
@Cliff Hanger,
Cliff Hanger wrote:

As a child I was a walking worry machine-- both real and imagined worries-- growing up I got into a lot of unecessary trouble because of it. Now, I just manage it better.



How did it get you into trouble, Cliff Hanger??


boomerang wrote:

The only thing I really remember being fearful of was car crashes. I have no idea why - I was never in a car crash as a kid and don't remember ever seeing a really horrid crash -- but I never felt safe riding in a car. I didn't learn to drive until I was well into my 20s and I still hate driving. I'm not afraid to ride in cars or to drive anymore but I don't enjoy it.

Mo worries about everything and I mean everything. His school had a field trip to the art museum yesterday and he worried for a week that the building was going to be "too big". He was vague about why the size of the building made him feel nervous. He will find some little thing to worry about in just about any situation.

For us, preparation is the key to easing the fears. We talk and talk and I try to realistically address all of the things he can think up about what could go wrong.



Interesting re the car crashes.....

Mo WOULD worry about everything! It's interesting how he tries to particularize his worry...give it a form and substance.

JPB wrote:

I was highly anxious as a child. K was/is highly anxious. The uncanny thing that I noticed in her as an infant/toddler was that her list of fears mirrored my own.

Dogs and bees especially. With K it was anything she couldn't predict. A balloon that might pop, a dog that might jump/bite, an insect that might sting... She also has a very strong anxiety about being abandoned. She learned to crawl early so that she could follow me from room to room. Neither she nor I handle change very well. I don't remember my own early childhood of course but if she was naked she hated getting dressed, if she was dressed she hated getting undressed. Baths were hell -- she couldn't stand going from being dry to getting wet. We finally gave up on baths altogether and washed her with a wet washcloth until she was old enough to sit up in a ring in the tub. Once she had some ability to control the situation she was fine.

She has tackled many of her anxieties over the years as have I. We are both still generally anxious by nature. I sometimes jokingly refer to her as my velcro-child but it's true. She has recently moved away to college and is having a very hard time adjusting to being away from home.


Raises the nature/nurture thing, doesn't it? The bees and dogs thing is so common as to be developmentally normal, but her resistance to changed states is interesting. You'd expect a child with that kind of separation anxiety to be generally anxious, though, but I am wondering if you are also very sensitive to tactile changes?

Sounds like she definitely shared stuff with you, and you were able to help.

I am forever finding that kids have intense fears that their parents don't know about...or the parents see the external manifestations of the fear, but the kid doesn't/can't explain to them the basic underlying fear. Sometimes because they have no idea that it is different or unusual.

Eva wrote:

Well, of course there were the monsters under the bed...and the monsters in the forbidden locked closet in my room...and the ghosts behind the attic access panel in my closet. And the threat of nuclear destruction. And tornadoes. And heights. And covered bridges. All ordinary stuff, though. I don't think I was any more fearful than average.

SonofEva has always been a very secure child, but even he was terrified that there were monsters behind the drawn shower curtain in his bathroom. That's why he always insisted it be left open. (I just found this out through one of his creative writing assignments.)

I do believe that most children have deeper fears than adults. Perhaps it comes from the lack of control over their world. Or more unbridled imaginations.


I think the monsters are pretty standard! It is what is interesting to me, though....whether " most children have deeper fears than adults." I only know what I felt, and what some people I have discussed it with feel, and what is seen as developmentally normal, and what client kids experience......I am really wondering how much the deep fears you talk about ARE common to most kids.

Great that your parents could help you.


CalamityJane wrote:

I had a pretty carefree childhood, shielded from any worries my parents have
had. In our neighborhood most people left their doors open, we kids were
playing outside until dusk and no one worried about burglars, being kidnapped
or otherwise hurt.
I was afraid of snakes though - unfounded as we didn't have any in the city,
but my grandmother used to tell me "fairy tales" of rivers with snakes in them
where the bad guys were thrown into. Gosh, she would make millions today
as a horror fiction writer....



Cool! My neighboiurhood was very safe, too...and we kids just disappeared all day. But..somehow I had heard about people breaking in and hurting you....I think I was just anxious, though...and found various concrete things to "pin" a general anxiety on.

I was not in the least afraid of any animal though....except centipedes, which used to get into the house. They LOOKED mean!

Linkat wrote:

I remember the first time I worried about dying. I am not sure my age, but I would say around kindergarten or first grade. We were driving by a cemetery and I could see that they digging a grave. Wham! It hit me " I would die some day and then it would end. I lost a lot of sleep with this worrying. My parents never knew I worried about it and I never brought it up to them. I eventually got over it, but I would say it was huge for me.

More recently, my younger daughter at 5 was worried her heart would stop beating and she would die. My older daughter had read something to her about a girl that had died (I forget what was cause), but my little girl once screamed in the car " call 9-1-1! We nearly had a heart attack ourselves. Then she said, my heart stopped beating. We talked with her about it and finally one day she announced she was no longer worried about her heart not beating.

My daughters do seem to bring things up to me which I think does help them " I can tell it doesn’t completely stop the worrying, but at least they are more calmed by it and it helps them deal with things. Which is much more than I had " for whatever reason I do not remember ever discussing worries with my parents " I think I may have been afraid they would tease me or make fun of my worries. Fortunately for me and my children, it doesn’t appear they have an issue with bringing the same sort worries to me.



When kids experience fear of death is a fascinating thing, isn't it? It often seems to be a taboo enough subject that they don't tell parents....of course, kids have magical thinking up to a certain age, and fear bad thoughts can really hurt people, which may be why they are afraid to discuss fears like death.

It's great your kids can talk to you and get help to deal with their worries.

CalamityJane wrote:



JPB's post made me re- think if being fearful is something you're born into or
Since JPB was a fearful child and her daughter is from an early age on too,
she couldn't have transmitted her fears into the child. Interesting!





Not sure if we can assume that...kids have great radar.

I suspect it's a nature and nurture thing.


Fascinating responses...thanks folks!
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 09:39 am
@JPB,
Interesting...though monitoring done on cohorts of babies having their first bath say that the experience is intensely stressful for them.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  3  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 09:43 am
@JPB,
That is interesting. I remember they used my baby as the model baby in the nursery for showing us new moms and dads how to give a baby a bath. She was a star pupil.

One other thing my daughter's doctor noted was as a baby how quickly she got over and was calm after getting a shot.
Eva
 
  2  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 09:53 am
@Linkat,
That's pretty funny. As I remember, it was ME who was hysterical during SonofEva's first bath!
0 Replies
 
 

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