Silas is, unfortunately, in the age of irrational fears. I know it’s developmentally totally normal. It’s a sign that he’s discovering that the world is bigger (and maybe scarier) than he thought. It means that he’s growing up and beginning to consider the limits of his own mind.
Which would all be wonderful, if it weren’t also awfully annoying. He is terrified of the river (not necessarily a bad thing, in itself, but he refuses to listen to us when we tell him that it is safe, on a certain day, which it often is). He is afraid of the wind. JC’s dad made a joke the other day (which was, indeed, a blustery day) about how one could nearly blow away. We both kind of freaked out at him for saying it, because Silas really does think he could blow away.
I’m pretty sure Silas also thinks that we are negligent parents. We do things like allow Petra to play outside on windy days, with no fear at all that she will float off into the ether. Sometimes he gives me a look, and I can just tell he’s thinking, “Don’t you care about her at all?”
As for how to handle this (annoying) phase…well, we’re trying a few things, and we’ll let you know if any of them work.
- Waiting. The fact of the matter is that this is just a developmental phase. It’s the point when children begin to realize that other people believe and think things and they don’t know anything about what’s going on in anyone’s head. They realize that sometimes a parent is wrong about things–and what if that parent is wrong about very dangerous, serious things? Oh my.
- Empowering. Silas needs to feel strong right now. A lot of what is going on in his mind is making him feel very small. We try to help him feel big. We tell him to roar at the wind, like a tiger, or get a stick and shake it and say, “Wind! I’m not scared of you!” We let him push us over. JC lets him “fight” with sticks. We’re pacifists, but there is a time and place for letting a three-year-old feel physically strong, and this is it.
- Interest. When Silas is interested in something, his fears stop mattering quite so much. I’m putting a wind and rain gauge in his Easter basket, in the hopes that teaching him to measure the wind will help him have some sense of control over it. He also loves gadgets, just generally, so running out to check it might help. I also try to talk to him about the important things the wind does, like helping flowers pollinate and helping certain kinds of birds fly.
- Reassurance. We constantly tell him that we won’t let him blow away. We try not to discount his fears, because they are definitely real to him. He’s pretty distressed at our utter lack of fear. It does not inspire confidence. We try saying, “The wind can be scary, can’t it? Sometimes I’m scared of the wind too.”
I hope this phase doesn’t last long. He does tend to freeeeeak out more than I really have patience for, day and night.