Spiders, Snakes, & Irrational Fears

Monday, 17 February 2014

Charlotte's Web

 I am raising a girl.

I mean a really, girly girl. But it's not just bows and Barbie or Minnie Mouse and baby dolls; it's the ability to cry and pout on cue (God help us). And lately I find it is also an absolute fear of snakes and spiders.

At Christmas, my parents got Hunter series one and two of 'Deadly 60'. For those of you without little boys, it's a show that does top 10's of the animal kingdom (top 10 fiercest, top 10 deadliest, top 10 fastest...). Of course, as you would expect of a show aimed at boys, at least one snake and one spider features in each top 10. In addition to this, we got him a remote control tarantula. He wanted a real one. I considered it, 
but Dad said 'not just no, but hell no!'. 

I first noticed Scarlett was afraid of spiders because every time Hunter so much as turned the tarantula on she screamed and cried in terror. Soon after I noticed that anytime a spider or snake came on TV (and as you can imagine, we have watched both series one and two about a billion times since Christmas), she also went into hysterical screaming/crying. It has gotten so bad that she even points at the black embroidered spider on his Spiderman onesie and clings to me sobbing. 

What I can't figure out is why she is so afraid? I wouldn't say I love spiders, but I'm not really afraid of them per se. I have been known to live with a few, I just like to know where they are. I wasn't terribly fond of the big brown one that showed up snuggled up under my pillow one night, and I am certainly not looking for more bed buddies or otherwise, but still I don't tend to run screaming when I see one. In fact, I tend to react to spiders better than Dad does. Maybe that's where she gets her fear 
(see previous mention of a pet tarantula) :-).

Likewise, I am not really scared of snakes either. I can pet them and hold them. I even once had a pet grass snake. He was so little and green and cute. Again, I'm not putting up the 'vacancy' sign and taking them in for the winter, but still I don't scream or cry at the sight of a snake. They were fairly common in my back yard when I lived near the dismal swamp. Sadly, those were also rattlesnakes and copperheads, 
so not really the type you want to cozy up to.

So where did my little miss, who is only 21 months and hasn't really been exposed to real-life examples of either snakes or spiders, get such a strong fear of them? At what age do children develop irrational fears? And by 'irrational', I mean fears which have no known background or cause. I mean I could see it if she had been bit by either or even seen a real live snake. Where did she learn that they were to be feared?

Have any of you noticed unusual or irrational fears in your children or 
maybe did you develop some of your own early in life?

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