22-Month-Old Toddler Development: Fears
As your kid's mind matures and his imagination starts to amp up, often so will his fears. You may find your totally chill, adventurous toddler is suddenly afraid of everything from loud noises to the bath to your mother-in-law's tuna-raisin casserole. (Well, that is scary!) Kids this age are often afraid of things they can't control or can't understand. (Not that we'd expect anyone to understand why you'd put raisins and tuna together.) What you're thinking: "If he's afraid of the vacuum, does that mean I don't have to use it?"
- Even if you think your kid's fear is totally absurd, try to take it seriously. To him, Santa is the most terrifying thing on earth. If you don't acknowledge your kid's phobias, they might grow and cause problems with sleep or separation anxiety. So no giggling when he freaks at the first sight of the coffee grinder. Here are some coping tips for your little scaredy cat.
- Avoid scary things like violent TV shows, books or movies. You may think 101 Dalmatians is totally harmless, but trust us, that Cruella de Vil is terrifying!
- Help your kid face his fears. If he's terrified of the Easter Bunny, get him a toy bunny or read him a book about Easter. If he's freaked out by animals, visit the zoo or let him pet the neighbor's cat. If he seems frightened or resistant, however, back off and try again later. Don't force him to face his fears until he's good and ready. No one's forcing you to confront that irrational fear of mice.
- Don't pass along your anxiety to your little Cowardly Lion. If you're terrified of dogs, try not to visibly freak out every time you encounter one.
- Bedtime is the primo time for fears to rear their ugly heads. Nightmares and night terrors can start around this age. Give your kid a comfort object, put a night-light in his room if he's afraid of the dark and be prepared to chase the occasional monster out of the closet.
- If your kid's irrational fear of everything has got him clinging to your leg for dear life 24/7, don't worry, as this too shall pass. Some day soon your little guy will be sitting on Santa's lap smiling away with his big old bearded bud. In the meantime, enjoy playing the superhero to your Chicken Little.
- "I know what it's like to dig my heels in and refuse to run into the arms of the bogeyman. But that's exactly why I want to help my son get over his fears. I don't want him to miss out on all the things I missed out on as a kid because I was afraid."
Read more of "I'm Afraid" by Sherry Richert Belul
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All kids grow and develop at different rates. So please don't compare your toddler with so-and-so's from across the street—you'll just drive yourself nuts. If you have any concerns, bring them up with your doctor at your kid's next checkup.