All human beings feel fear at times; it is an innate reaction to potential danger, part of the human instinct for survival. And because babies and young children are so dependent on others for their security, they are prone to many more fears than adults.
A child expresses certain basic kinds of car long before she can talk. An infant, for example, will startle or cry when she hears a loud noise or feels like she is falling. As children grow older, more complex anxieties arise naturally from rapid changes in their emotional make-up and their expanding perception of the world around them.
Children’s interest in their environment increases as they enter their sound year of life, but their feeling of security is easily shaken by new experiences. They may be particularly skittish about sudden, unfamiliar sounds, such as the vacuum cleaner, passing fire engines or barking dog. During the toddler stage, a child’s fears seem to grow more ill-founded rather than less so. Partly this is because of her immature sense of spatial relationships and the child’s distorted sense of her own size in relation to the size of the thing around her. The youngster may display a fear of the toilet or the bath that is based on a concern about somehow being sucked down the drain.