Six-Year-Old-Child’s Irrational fears? or Drama Queen?

I find myself pondering once again: What causes a child to have sudden, unexplainable, and seemingly irrational fears, that come and go and without warning.

My seven-year-old seems fearless in many ways. She’s so much more of a risk-taker than her older sister, but then surprises me: losing her mind with panic at a hornet buzzing around the patio table; freaking out as the bathtub-of-a-row-boat moves outside of some imagined safety-zone – while she sits (accompanied by an adult who can swim) in her life jacket & wetsuit fully capable of swimming 50 meters (without the use of either), whilst the boat is hardly 25 meters from the dock or the shore; or suddenly requesting the option of sleeping inside the house rather than the much anticipated tent (in which she slept last year without incident or fear)… I could go on and on at the number of recently cropped up fears, some of which we’ve managed to overcome, others leaving me at a loss.

I find the most challenging part being that I simply cannot empathize with her panic, that my first reaction is simply to be frustrated and off-putting. When I realize that this is not going to go away, I try to reason with her. I try to understand where it is coming from. Was there an incident I was not witness to? Did someone share some “enlightening” tale? What can we do to make it better? It rarely makes sense.

How many parents feel this overwhelming urge to just throw the child overboard (figuratively speaking, of course 😉 ) and let them experience what might happen? At what point are natural consequences and refusing to coddle effective strategies, and at what point might they make matters worse? I tend to err on the side of wishing not to make matters worse, but could that in itself be part of the problem? I am, however, by no means an overprotective mom. I let my children stand a little too close to the swings and be brushed by the sneakers of their companions.swinging by. I encourage attempts at independence that often require additional clean-up. I let my daughter cut the carrots to help prepare a meal, even though my head is saying “woa! that requires a very sharp knife!”

This weekend, my children were to sleep in the tent nearby to us (who were in the tent trailer), just down the hill behind Nanny & Grampy’s house. In addition to wanting some privacy, we didn’t want the extra work to set up and take down the additional beds in the trailer. We compromised. The tent got moved to within tripping distance of the trailer door. Then I suggested to my daughter that she’d miss out on one of the most fun parts of camping out with her sister – the shake awake and urgent whispering :did you hear?” This was all it took, and on night two there was nary a discussion.

Is she just a drama queen? Or is there something to these fears?