How to I handle my fearless child?

We’re all supposedly born with two fears – falling and loud noises. They’re written into our DNA as mechanisms for survival, and yet I have a toddler who regularly tries to walk off the bed with an apparent disregard for the distance between her and the floor.

The Popple is mostly fearless. She loves big dogs (the bigger and more threatening-looking, the better) and loud trucks. She attempts to climb up slides and run into traffic. She’s very interested in strangers, especially the slightly weird ones. At 14 months old and under 20 lbs, she is much, much braver than me.

The only things that have really scared her have been me leaving her at nursery (totally understandable) and my cat’s toy mouse (a complete mystery).

A brown toy mouse on a beige carpet

“Look, it’s Milo’s mouse!” I said brightly when I first showed it to her, shaking it so it squeaked. She loved his other toy mouse, a purple furry thing that she plucked at until it no longer had a tail.

She backed away, pointing at it accusingly.

“It’s okay. It’s not real.” I picked it up and placed it in her hands. She drew back and pointed.

“Okay, we don’t have to play with it. Mama will put it on the floor.” I placed it on the carpet, but she kept pointing at it. It wasn’t until I hid the mouse until a blanket that she relaxed.

I had some odd childhood fears myself, including:

  • Superman. Somehow I got it into my head that he was a bad guy, and I had nightmares where he swooped into my house and carried me away.
  • That if I didn’t play with all of my stuffed animals equally, the ones I had neglected would come attack me during the night.
  • The drawings in the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books. I had to keep the books face down at night so the cover drawings couldn’t see me.

I mentioned this fear to Adrian recently and he scoffed.

“You were afraid of some drawings?” he said.

“Have you ever SEEN these drawings?” I asked.

He hadn’t, so I showed him. And he totally got it, because THIS IS THE STUFF OF NIGHTMARES.

Tree with a skull instead of leaves which is smoking a pipe
Cover artist: Stephen Gammell

Now that I’m an adult, I’m afraid of more rational things, like being stuck in a situation where I have to make awkward conversation with a stranger. Or having to find my way to a place I’ve never been to before (yes, I know we all have maps on our phones now, but Google Maps is no match for my appalling sense of direction). Or coming across someone I know I’ve met before but whose name I’ve forgotten, and having to spend the entire conversation anxiously hoping that names never come up.

But the thing that I’m afraid of the most is not being able to keep the Popple safe. It’s the only fear that matters, the one that keeps me up at night, the one that I share with all parents everywhere. How can I protect this little ball of energy that walks off ledges and approaches pit bulls with open arms?

I suspect I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to answer that question.

19 Comment

  1. I feel your pain chick – Josh is now at an age where he is crawling, getting into everything and I’m constantly trying to keep him safe. I know he’s going to bump his head at times, I know no matter how much I do there are going to be times he tumbles or gets a fright. All we can do is be there to scoop them up, hug them and do our best to keep them safe. All we can ever do is our best – and we’re doing bloody great! xx #fortheloveofBLOG

  2. Piglet is exactly the same, and I feel like it’s a constant balance between making sure he’s not putting himself in danger, and making sure that I don’t end up unwittingly making him overly fearful of everything with my reactions. #tribe

  3. My oldest is about to turn nine- she is complete fearless as well. The qualities I admire in her so are the same ones that terrify, frustrate and perplex me.

  4. This is so much like my eldest son. He has now made it to age 9, but I sometimes wonder how! He has no concept of danger or boundaries. I’ve handled it by stopping him when he’s about to do something dangerous, and encouraging him to think about what might happen (eg “Stop! What might happen if you jump off that high wall?”). Hope that helps! #EatSleepBlogRT

  5. I know I will worry for years! My boys have either no or irrational senses of danger. Many kids with autism are similar. We can but do our best to educate where and when possible! Good luck! #eatsleepblogrt

  6. Ah Katie you’ve completely hit the nail on the head – how on earth do we keep them safe, and will we ever stop worrying? I don’t think we will! But how wonderful that she’s so brave. TM also likes to crawl towards the edge of the bed – he actually fell off once and I felt like the worst parent ever. Now that he cruises about the furniture and falls over constantly I have got over it! #fartglitter

    Oh and that picture – terrifying!! Is that a KIDS book?!

  7. Aw my daughter is a bit wussy and I usually wish she was a bit more fearless! However I get you; tenterhooks the whole time ! I bet you do a fab job…embrace your little brave girl, as I bet she goes far later on!! X #fartglitter

  8. My youngest is the same, no fear whatsoever. As a result we have had two major accidents this year, one knocking his teeth back and the other gashing his head open and requiring stitches. I’m actually surprised he hasn’t done more as regardless of how we tell him to stop or we try and make sure he cant hurt himself, he WILL find danger!! #bigpinklink

  9. I know exactly what you mean. My eldest is nearly 4 now and still has no fear of anything at all. In some ways I love it and I don’t want to destroy that innocence by warning her of danger and risking filling her with fear. I love that she loves the world and sees nothing but fun. There’s just such a fine line and I haven’t worked out how to handle it yet! Thanks for linking this us with #fartglitter x
    PS – that book cover – OMG!

  10. oh gosh that picture scared me looking at it just now!!!! My eldest was funny, she was so scared of people, if they looked at her she would cry, seriously any stranger! But see a big dog and she wanted to hg it, jump off the tallest diving board and there she would be, scary rides no problem. Luckily now at 12 she is confident in front of people and even public speaking doesn’t phase her, she just needed time. #bigpinklink

  11. My 6-year-old STILL is fearless, even more so when we are telling him not to do something. It is often terrifying. I hope yours outgrows it before reaching this age. #EatSleepBlogRT

  12. I can totally relate to this, my little minx (2 and half next month) has NO fear and it scares the shit out of me! She climbs, jumps off things, wants to break free from out hand as soon as she spots something she likes and the most recent one..she just drops to the floor for her tantrum which can be so dangerous depending on where we are! The louder the noise the better, the big the car the better and i’ve just come to learn with it, she’s active and curious and i’d rather a child with a bit of spunk then just sat quietly no interacting! you’ll get there and there will be accidents but its all part of the rollercoaster eh! thanks for sharing x #EatSleepBlogRT

  13. I hear you its petrifies me too. I see danger in so many things that I never used to bat an eyelid at. I think like you say this will be the case for, and well, ever. I guess we know what we put our mothers through now. Also yes very scary picture – totally understandable! #bigpinklink

  14. My kids are much older and I still worry. I don’t think it’s any easier and part of being a Mom. You just have to make sure she knows you will always be there. Thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink

  15. I totally relate to this – becoming a Mum has made me so scared that I just can’t control some things to keep Emma safe. Recently she has developed a fear of the little mouse in Hey Duggee and screams uncontrollably when she sees it! Other than that she is also fearless, especially with dogs too…#bigpinklink

  16. Rachel (Lifeofmyfamilyandme) says: Reply

    I get worried about mine all the time and they are now 5 and 11. I over think and worry about all sorts. I guess that’s parenthood for you! Thanks for linking up to #EatSleepBlogRt

  17. I can completely resonate with this I worry too that I won’t be able to keep my daughter safe. There’s so many scary things in the world at the moment, I just need to educate her well in life. I am also quite afraid of the cats toy too! Thanks for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

  18. Ah my son thought he was indestructable at that age – he kinda was to be honest! But now he is older he has loads of thing that bother him that never did before like heights and dogs. Its tough keeping them safe, keeps me up nights too #EatSleepBlogRT

  19. My oldest is riddled with fears and my youngest is more the free spirit. I was raised to be afraid and rebelled. I suppose some healthy balance in between would be best… but where would the challenge be then? I fear the outcome of the US election, providing for my family, health, the toll of sleep deprevation…
    Oh shucks…M’wah! Embrace your lovely and let her fly! #fartglitter

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