Childhood Fears

(Me and my siblings - mom was afraid to let me in the water even though I was a fish. She didn't swim. Mom's childhood nightmare? Falling in a pond!)

Let's take a look at some of the early fears we had when we were little. Some of the fears are still with us. Some can be reactivated and I will share some movies that might help you remember that fear - 

Fear of Separation

Children are dependent on parents for protection, food, and love. The thought of being separated from that is a strong childhood fear. Even mom or dad going out could cause us to scream and cry. 

"Chitty Chitty Bang! Bang!" 

The childcatcher is seriously every childhood horror in one children's musical demon!  An adult version of this movie would be "Halloween"

Fear of Witches

It started with Halloween and the concept of spells, warts, hooked noses, and more. In fact, when my son was in grade school, I made a witch's nose for the Halloween party. It was a box with a giant nose on it and the children put their hands into the nostrils into a tub of green jello to pull a toy out each nostril.

Fear of Bad Guys 

"Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" 

Fictional bad guys are every kid's horror. The bad guy could be the coyote going after the roadrunner or someone like Slugworth in "Willy Wonka." Kids are quick to pick out who the good guy is and who is the bad guy and childhood fables were based upon this distinct delineation.

Fear of Monsters

Everyone went through this phase and for some, they still tuck their legs up under the blanket and pull their arms from the edges of the bed when they go to sleep out of an ancient unchallenged fear.

There’s been plenty of portrayals in movies. The one above shows the kid in the movie “Poltergeist” being pulled under his bed by a feared toy in his room—the clown doll. Most people shutter when they encounter clowns, but clown dolls combine two fears into one; fear of clowns/fear of dolls.

In the 1989 movie “Little Monsters,” starring Fred Savage (our favorite little “Wonder Years” kid), had a more pleasant twist to the story. A boy meets the monster under his bed and makes friends with him, joining him and a world of monsters that exist under the beds of children.

Sometimes referred to as the Bogeyman, Wikipedia has this to say about the legend, “The bogeyman (also spelled boogyman, bogyman, boogieman, boogey monster) is a legendary ghost-like monster. The bogeyman has no specific appearance and conceptions of the monster can vary drastically even from household to household within the same community; in many cases, he simply has no set appearance in the mind of a child, but is just an amorphous embodiment of terror. Bogeyman can be used metaphorically to denote a person or thing of which someone has an irrational fear. Parents often say that if their child is naughty, the bogeyman will get them, in an effort to make them behave…The bogeyman legend may originate from Scotland, where such creatures are sometimes called bogles, boggarts, or boggers… In some places, the concept has him hiding under the bed or in the closet and tickles children when they go to sleep at night.”

The legend of the monster under the bed is also a close competitor with the “monster in the closet” syndrome. How many of you had to close your closet door to sleep at night? Think you heard things rattling in there? Watched the doorknob to see if it was jiggling? Of course, the movie “Poltergeist” also jumped on that fear of the monster in the closet syndrome when they had the little girl sucked right into the portal inside the dreaded closet.

My monster under the bed had the webbed paws of the monster from “The Creature from the Black Lagoon.” The skin would have been leathery and the grip would have claws on the tips of his webbed fingers. The more I imagined the flick of a claw against my ankle when I was sitting up, I would eagerly dive into the covers and pull them up. The rest of the monster to me was something I never imagined because all I could concentrate on was the kinds of hands that would grip me, not where they would take me or what I would encounter below.

What protected me from the monster under the bed? Having the covers completely over me. Sometimes, a bit of air was necessary, and that was allowed from the top near the headboard. During the night, if I awakened with a hand draped over the side of the bed or a foot dangling, I’d have to bring it back up. I also lined up my stuffed animals around the edge of the bed so they looked outward and protected me all night while I slept.

Although I was over the monster fear by the time I was about seven, I had a lot of friends who held onto the monster longer. Why do children get this fear? Well, you turn out the lights and they can’t see what’s out there. To a child, they don’t have the logic to understand that what’s there in the light will be there in the dark and nothing changes. It takes some time for children to get an understanding of that concept. Admittedly, I tended to be a bit counterphobic. At the point that the monster died for me, I had become so frustrated by accepting that there was a monster down there without question, that I climbed out of bed, crawled under it and laid there waiting. Nothing happened except I found out the underneath of my bed was dusty and made me sneeze a lot. In retrospect, that might have been the first sign I would hunt ghosts and do a lot of debunking in the future.

Eventually, we get rid of the fear of the monster under the bed or in the closet, but we might just transfer that to fear of a burglar while we’re sleeping. Sleep is, after all, a very vulnerable and unconscious time.

"Pan's Labyrinth"
Here's a movie for fear of monsters! This should bring back that childhood fear. You might also enjoy "Jeepers Creeper"

Fear of the Dark

Nyctophobia- Fear of darkness or night

We have it when we are usually 2-3 years old and possess an imagination at that point, but too young to understand that imagination isn't real.

Still, as adults, those who love horror movies know something else that ties back to those years of fear of the dark, that we can imagine something scary and react to it, heart beating, palms sweating, jumping and hiding. 

Technically, do we ever learn to distinguish imagination from real threat? Here's just some movies about the dark that might make you wonder....

"Darkness Falls"
This movie is full of darkness and fear of the dark. It will bring back those childhood feelings. The movies "Pitch Black" and "30 Days of Night" might also reignite that fear of the dark.

Fear of Strangers

A new face can scare a child more than any other fear. A big person bends over and puts their face near the child and the soon, the mouth opens and the wailing begins. 

"The Strangers" 
Here's a good movie to replay that childhood fear as a couple are terrorized by masked strangers while holed up in a cabin. Another good movie with this concept is the foreign movie "Them."

Fear of Storms

The sound of thunder brings terror to most kids. There is nothing worse than crashing and flashes of light and electricity going out to send them to mom and dad's bed. I remember as a kid, the loud noise scared me (as did firework displays). My dad told me it was angel's bowling and if you hear a loud crash, they just got a strike and you are supposed to clap and cheer. It changed the way I saw storms forever! 


This movie did a one-two-three punch - scary storm scene and clown doll - under the bed! 

Fear of Mall Santas

Santa, the necessary evil, to enjoy Christmas, but most kids are not comfortable with this fuzzy faced stranger pulling them onto his lap. 

"Santa's Slay"
Here's a horror movie to remind you why Santa was hiding something. 

Fear of Dentists

There is nothing more horrifying to most kids than the cold sterile room of a dentist and a stranger coming at your mouth with motorized tools and picks. Getting a vaccine seems easy in comparison.

"The Dentist"
Here's a horror movie to replay that fear again.

Fear of Clowns

I remember when my son was having his fourth birthday, I had a clown come to the ball bin at the fast food place where we were having the party. The big loud, bright clown entered the ball bin and the children dove under the balls and screamed. My son still remembers that big person in crazy color, the wild hair and loud voice. Clowns are hiding something, children are good judges that they just aren't "right."

This movie will remind you why you feared clowns. You might also appreciate "It."

Do we still have some of these fears? We might develop new ones. I got rid of fear of dark for fear of heights. But, adult logic helped dispatch most of those fears. Still, the fear of ventriloquist dolls can linger, even with me living with Dale the Doll - 

The movie that activates that fear?

"Dead Silence"