Friday, February 13, 2009

Irrational Fears II: The Yellow Singing Bird

At age two or so, many toddlers start developing irrational fears. For my littlest one, age 2 ½, this started a few weeks ago with her fear of “the bugasy”. Once I had made the cause of her fear disappear, it took about a week for her to forget about it. Then she started to be afraid of an innocent singing canary.

For her first birthday and Christmas, she received two collections of singing birds, created by the National Audubon Society: backyard birds, and water birds. The children love to sit in a pile of birds with her and make them all sing. This is what they were doing the afternoon before she suddenly took a fear to the yellow singing bird.

All of a sudden, I heard her scream, “NOOOO! No bird! Go away!” She could not have made herself more clear.

I made the bird disappear, but my seven-year-old son thought it was fun to get a reaction out of her. He took it out of the drawer where I had hid it, and showed it to her again. She screamed so loud it scared me.

For several days afterward, she would look on the top of the dresser, where I keep the birds in a wicker basket. I knew she was scanning them to make sure the yellow bird was not there. “It’s gone,” she would say, with satisfaction.

What made her suddenly be so scared of something that had formerly given her pleasure? The kids theorized that the yellow bird bore some remote resemblance to a “star monster” that they had seen on a Scooby Doo episode the same afternoon she had attached fear to the bird. Who knows?

I bought her a Winnie the Pooh and Tigger sweatshirt. She loves Pooh Bear and Tigger but refuses to wear it. Why? Good thing it was a larger size – hopefully by next fall she will be willing to wear it.

That reminds me of the purple winter coat my friend bought for my first-born when she was three. I was getting her into her car seat one day, when a spider crawled into the hood of the coat. She screamed until I got the coat off her, and refused to ever wear it again. My friend was not too happy.

Kids need to feel safe, and if they attach fear to an object, I believe the best thing is to remove the object, so that they can again feel secure. After all, they’re just things, right? And after a while, they will see it the same way.

“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests know to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Phillippians 4:6-7

1 comment:

Loren Christie said...

This is a really interesting post. I've noticed that my 6 year old attaches fear to things sometimes, and removes them from his room.