Irrational fear

My daughter has an irrational fear. It’s of the film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the newer one – with Johnny Depp). It was about 18 months ago that the kids insisted on buying the DVD, against my better judgement. She watched it and she was fine. Yet somehow after the event she developed this silly fear.

It is so irrational that she can’t go into HMV ‘because they have Charlie and the Chocolate Factory there’. No matter that HMV is a massive shop and you could easily avoid it.

The DVD was supposed to be thrown away, but my eldest, who is a little bit tight and materialistic, refused to let it go – because it had cost money. Not his, I might hasten to add. So it was hidden at the back of the shelf.

Somehow it made it to the front of the shelf. Somehow the cover made it onto the settee. My daughter whimpered and pointed. She couldn’t even speak to tell us what the problem was. So the offending cover was taken to the outside bin and rammed inside. Never to be seen again.

But it’s always there somewhere – a trailer on Boomerang, a DVD on offer in Sainsburys. It’s remarkable how often we seem to encounter it. And I still don’t know why she’s so frightened of it.

Yes, it’s a bit weird and a bit dark. I didn’t think she should watch it in the first place and clearly I was right. But I do wish she could tell us specifically what it is that’s so scary.

Earlier this year, she was eyeing up some Muppets pyjamas in the Disney shop. They were boys’ ones, so I was quite pleased. I like the fact that she’s a girly girl, but there are some girly excesses which have to be prevented – anything trimmed in pink feathers for example. So I quietly mentioned the Muppet pyjamas to my sister-in-law, who bought them for her birthday.

She wore them once, then they mysteriously vanished. Several months later I unearthed them from where she’d buried them in her drawer. She couldn’t wear them. The Chef from the Muppets, who isn’t even on the pyjamas, reminds her of something (I don’t know what) from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so she can’t wear them.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory isn’t her only fear. There’s Polar Express, the lovely children’s Christmas film about a lovely steam train taking children to see Father Christmas. It is full of ‘mild peril’. You know the sort of thing – child loses train ticket, child nearly misses train. For a slightly nervous child or a particularly caring child, that stuff is hard to watch. Even though, as a U film, this should be suitable for children over the age of 4.

You know how they show DVDs at school at Christmas? Last year, when she was in Year 1, they showed Polar Express at school. My poor daughter was sat on her own crying silent tears until she was plucked out and sat on a TA’s lap. No doubt they will show it again this year and next.

I thought we were heading for irrational fear with The Lion King too, but I had to put a stop to it. The film is too good, the music is too good and the characters are too cute for her to be afraid of it. I had to take her out of the cinema in floods of tears after Simba’s Daddy died.

‘They shouldn’t have killing in children’s films’, but I took her back in and really talked up the cuteness of the rest of the film, so I think we avoided that one. Just.

And there’s Brave, which warranted a whole post on its own read about it here Bizzarely, though, she will watch Harry Potter without batting an eyelid.

Do anyone else’s kids have these irrational fears? And how do you deal with them?

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Do you know in a funny sort of way I was relieved to read this as we have been through similar things with both our boys. Children’s irrational fears come out of nowhere and mine have been scared of strange things too. I have never shown them that film as L is scared of everything but he watched it at a friends and it didn’t bother him at all, yet a scene out of his Pokemon Wii game gave him nightmares for a week! It is very strange!

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  2. I have a fear of great kids films being unnecessarily remade! I love the original so have never seen the Johnny Depp version!! My daughter was terrified by the rhinos in Jumanji when she was a similar age, and my 8 yer old still can’t watch Halloween Simpsons! It’s normal to be scared when you are small, I still get scared now. But mostly by politicians!!

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  3. I was always petrified of Bungle from Rainbow but he was a 6 foot freakin bear! The wife is still terrified of Wurzil Gummage but he is quite creepy. Short of the weeping angels in Dr Who, my 2 are pretty hardy but the whole big brother thing means that Lib was exposed to stuff at an earlier age and seemed to cope. Harry Potter was great at slowly weaning her onto the scarier stuff.

    The worst one is The Hole. It is a 12A, but it literally scares the crap out of me, its the way the ghost things move. The kids love it though.

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  4. Goblin is still young (turns three next month) but recently he has started to develop fears that he has never had before. I have a hilarious video of him running in a field happy as Larry, then he spots a kite some way off in the sky, turns on his heels and high tails it back to us screaming. This was not the first time he’d seem a kite.

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  5. Bless her! My middle child was exactly the same about various things – the house on ‘come inside’ with the face on it – remember that one?! And also the nasty queen in ‘Enchanted’. I think some children have a better and more vivid imagination than others, it has it’s pros and cons, obviously 🙁 She will be a fantastic story-teller I imagine! PS I’m not surprised she doesn’t like the Johnny Depp version, I hate it myself!

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  6. Thanks very much for your comments, everyone. I really appreciate them and it’s reassuring to know all kids get scared!
    The Monko – interesting that your son is just starting to get scared – it seems to come on as they get a bit older and start to understand the world. My eldest used to be terrified of kites – he would scream blue murder. I think he thought they were going to get lost – all my kids get very upset about losing things.
    Oh yes, Suzanne, I remember the house with the face on!
    I don’t like the Johnny Depp film either, but more because it’s crap than it’s actually scary. What’s that dentist bit at the end all about?! Totally unecessary!

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  7. Arr bless her,something is worrying her 🙁 hope it’s just something that will pass her by,I love Charlie and the chocolate factory but have never watch this version,only because it’s one of my favourite films Johnny Depp does look scary on the cover though..Thanks for linking up to welcome to the weekend hop 🙂

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