For many parents, children’s fears make no sense at all. Nevertheless, to children, monsters lurking in the dark or scary noises coming from the attic are quite real. Around the child’s second birthday, he or she may become frightened by things that did not cause fear before‑the neighbor’s dog, the dark, the bathtub drain and loud noises.
Children between the ages of 2 and 6 have experienced real fear or pain from being lost, injured, or bitten. They also have vivid imaginations and struggle with the idea of cause and effect.
All children have fears at some point in their life and it is usually considered to be a normal part of development. These fears are only abnormal if they are persistent or keep the child overly preoccupied with the subject that is feared, so that it interferes with normal activities, if the child can not be reassured or distracted away from the fear (becoming a phobia), or if it is an irrational fear. Whether or not a fear is irrational depends on a child’s age and developmental level. For example, it is normal for a 2 year old to be afraid of sitting on the potty, but it would be irrational for an 8 year old to have the same fear.
Several factors contribute to a child developing fears by age 2. A toddler knows something about size and shape, but not enough to be sure that he or she won’t be sucked down into the bathtub drain or into a flushing toilet. Older children also are aware of dangers that they hear about or see on TV. It’s hard to know what is real and what is not.
Toddlers normally have simple common fears of separation, noises, falling, animals, insects, using the potty, bathing and bedtime.
Next time, Common Fears of Toddlers with separation and baths -Part 4