We have nothing to fear but puppeteers

And fear itself, and giants and fairs, oh my!  But we might be overreacting about dirt.

Been a rough couple weeks with very anxious preschoolers.  One little guy was totally freaked out by a visit to the State Fair of Texas, and could not nap for days. I don't think he was sleeping much at night, either, as he was in tears most of the week and barely able to function.  And no, the little dude did not witness Big Tex going up in flames.

I have my own state fair anxieties. What are normal fears at age three, four, five, fifty+?  Growing Up Brave: Expert Strategies for Helping Your Child Overcome Fear, Stress, and Anxiety, by Dr. Donna Pincus, was a good guide on this topic.  Good reminders for the Halloween season, too!

Normal fears for preschoolers, ages 3-5:

  • Costumed characters
  • Ghosts
  • Clowns
  • Monsters
  • The dark
  • Sleeping alone
  • Separation anxiety
  • Specific fears such as dogs, bugs, water, blood, or elevators

And for all ages, debilitating anxiety and excessive stress make kids unable to store and retrieve information, to focus, and therefore to learn.

A second student is absolutely terrified of puppets.  She can play with a puppet herself, but seeing a puppet show sends her into a massive panic attack. Just anticipating an upcoming puppet show sets her into terror. Rather than remove her before the puppet show, we are trying to give her the coping skills to ride it out and the cognitive tools to understand the situation.

As for dirt, I'm just beginning An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Disorders, by Moises Velasquez-Manoff.  The hypothesis is that medical elimination of bacteria, viruses, and parasites has brought a new slew of ailments in the developed world.  Ignoring the evolutionary functions of these "bugs" may be contributing or causing the skyrocketing rates of peanut allergies, autism, inflammatory bowel diseases, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and asthma.  The costs of these diseases are in the billions of dollars each year. 

The book reviews in the New York TimesWall Street Journal and Kirkus have been very intriguing.

© 2012 Nancy L. Ruder

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

Re: the latter. Yes, I have a friend who has been saying this for a decade. "Stop washing your hands all the time with antibacterial soap," she says.


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