Helloall, we are looking for some advice about our 18 month old son.

Since a month or so he has started manifesting strange episodes of fear towards some household objects.

The first instance was a bathrobe on a black plastic hanger. The thing had always been in the bathroom but one day, out of the blue, he started looking at it with anxiety, started clutching at us and withdrawing from it in fear. He actually started whining. We took it away and hid it in another room, and in the following days he kept referring to it (with the word 'pappu' that is a word he uses for many things).

Then he had the same reaction to a green cup lid. I tried to held it close to him to show him there was nothing to be scared about but he shook his head and told me to put it back in place. We hid that one too but he keeps pointing to its original position in the cupboard and saying 'nene' (for 'verde', green) and 'paua' ('paura', fear). This latter word he must have picked up from us (because in these episodes we tell him that there's nothing to fear) and now it has become the word he says more frequently.

My mother tells me that she witnessed another episode the other day, they were looking together out of the window and suddenly he stiffened, said 'paua', turned from the window and into her arms. She said he was positively shaking but she couldn't figure out what had scared him.

We've been researching and reading but we didn't find anything on fears at such a young age. Most books/articles we've read mention the topic of fear at the 3-4 yr point. Also, these fears always manifest during the day (not by night) and when he's with us (he goes to daycare and I mentioned it to the teachers but they said they didn't notice anything of the sort). So we are wondering if anybody has had a similar experience and what is the best way to help him through these episodes.

A bit of background: He goes to daycare in the morning, spends the afternoon with grandparents while I (the mother) am in the same house working remotely. His father and I spend generally a lot of time with him in the evenings and during the weekend. He generally goes to sleep quietly and easily enough (we hold/cuddle him to sleep), wakes up 1 to 4 times during the night but he's been that way since birth, not anything anxiety related. He goes to sleep in his bed and I take him in ours when he wakes up the first time.

1 Answer 1


This is a little too long for a comment, so I will put it as an answer.

“I think the first thing you have to understand is their age,” Herman says. “You can’t rationalize with them like you would an adult. Ask about their worries,” he says, instead of telling them there’s nothing to fear. Explain that our imaginations create stories, and the stories can be scary. “Help kids to understand that just because you can imagine a monster, doesn’t make it real.” Says Metroparent.com.

Herman describes to metroparent that its not the objects that the kids are scared of, but instead their perception that scares them. In the dark, a towel on a rack may look like a ghost.

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    Hi Joseph. Welcome to the site! Would you mind fleshing out your answer a bit? You're providing a link that is relevant, and there's some good advice, but you could improve it to make sure the answer is understandable and complete by itself. The link can serve as a reference for the quotes and provide more detail, but readers shouldn't be required to click on it to understand the answer. It won't take much to improve the answer - it would help greatly, for example, if you explained who Herman refers to in the second paragraph before quoting him, so people don't need to click to find out. Apr 30, 2021 at 15:53

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