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Thread: Fears in Children and Teenagers

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW Spy_on_the_Inside's Avatar
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    Fears in Children and Teenagers

    I'm working on a story about two girls living in a cult. One of the more common means of manipulation and punishment is exposing children to their worse fears (dogs, bees, the dark, load noises). But I'm having trouble coming up with fears for my two characters, who are sixteen and eight. The only thing I struggle with is creating probable fears for children this age.

    So I need to know some fears that children could be exposed to as a means of punishment, but also be things character this age could feasably be afraid of.

    Everyone tap into your childhood psyches, and let me know what would have terrified you to confront at this age, if you please!
    I like to think that God created haircuts, and arguments, and jam on the first day. Am I right, Eddie Izzard?


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  3. #3
    I rite good Kzordcid's Avatar
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    At eight, I would have been terrified of being separated from my family, and bats. At sixteen, I would have been terrified of death and being separated from my family... and bats.

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW LJD's Avatar
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    ummm...at 8 I was terrified of pretty much everything.
    I mean, I got nightmares from Honey I Shrunk the Kids.

  5. #5
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    The dark, monsters under the bed, virtually anything seen on tv or in the movies that might scare anybody.

    When I was a kid, it was giant shrews that were going to attack me (bad movie). My son was afraid of the bad guy from Howard the Duck, not to mention the cymbal playing guys at Friendly's who snuck up behind him on his birthday and made loud noises.

    A lot of it depends on the kid's history and what happened in his family.

  6. #6
    Heckuva good sport frimble3's Avatar
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    Fire. Drowning, and being in water in general, if it's so dark/deep that I couldn't see the bottom. (At both ages. And: still.) The drowning is easily duplicated by waterboarding, which I've heard that some cults use for controlling people.

    I would imagine that lbender is right, that aside from the sort of generic fears, a lot would depend on the child's history and home life.
    The child of a drunk may be afraid of chaos, the child of loud, abusive parents may fear what a raised voice foretells.

  7. #7
    Aye, ye scurvy dog! Sydneyd's Avatar
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    Bloody Mar--- I can't even type it.

    Actually, this is an ongoing fear. I will leave the room if someone even starts talking about this.

  8. #8
    Professor of applied misanthropy Drachen Jager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sydneyd View Post
    Bloody Mar--- I can't even type it.

    Actually, this is an ongoing fear. I will leave the room if someone even starts talking about this.
    That must be awkward, with you being a bartender and all.

  9. #9
    can totally spell Brobdinrgnagrian buzhidao's Avatar
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    Eight: Werewolves (not sexy ones, killing ones) under the bed. Dolls coming to life at night. Beetlejuice (well, the things in Beetlejuice, more like). Death. Anything involving creepy puppetry (Skeksis) or odd animation (I remember particularly animated versions of How the Camel Got His Hump and How the Rhino Got His Skin that weirded me out). Embarrassment. Any remotely frightening movie, including the Ernest Halloween movie.

    Sixteen: Death. Embarrassment. Alcohol, teen partying, etc. People screaming at each other. Confrontation. Being the center of attention in a crowd. The things in Beetlejuice. Most horror films. Being alone at night outside somewhere (in a city or not). Messing things up for someone. Being late. Bugs that have a shit-ton of legs (millipedes, centipedes, etc). After 9/11 I was scared of planes for a while but I got over it...

    Prospect of death is the only thing that caused full-on terror, though.

    So. Yes. Influence of life experience and all that...

  10. #10
    Aye, ye scurvy dog! Sydneyd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drachen Jager View Post
    That must be awkward, with you being a bartender and all.
    Ha! I don't even make that connection at work. How funny. Actually I remember one time a customer said it, not to order one, and I told him I would 86 him if he said it one more time...

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    This is my About.com Phobias site. I have a section on phobias in children, but any phobia on the site would work for any age group. Hope it helps!

    http://phobias.about.com/
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    Always curious. juniper's Avatar
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    I was afraid of worms when I was a child. Wouldn't touch them at all, even the little ones squiggling on the sidewalk after a rain.

    I still remember the time my best friend in the whole world told me she wouldn't be my friend anymore if I didn't touch a worm. I didn't touch it, and fortunately she's still my friend.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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  13. #13
    we're gonna make it out of the fire The_Ink_Goddess's Avatar
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    Being buried alive. Being drowned. Being set on fire. Being locked in small dark spaces. Spiders. Creepy crawlies. Anything bad happening to family. Being choked/strangled. Blood. Loud noises (apparently a primal fear). Being rejected. Sex?
    --Beth.

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    practical experience, FTW Sunflowerrei's Avatar
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    8 years old: heights. Losing my family. Failing a test (I was a good student). Dogs. Having to talk in front of the class. Insects. Having to interact with strangers. Fire.

    16 years old: Losing my family or having someone in my family get hurt or sick. Something bad happening to friends. Fire. Dogs. Flunking a subject in school or a test. Having to talk to strangers or basically anyone I was unfamiliar with. Getting lost on the bus or the subway. Getting mugged. Large, open spaces.
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    Remember the cult in Waco, Texas in the 1990's? I read material about this, and also saw a movie about it. Can't remember from which source I learned that the cult leader made a child who disobeyed him spend a night in a shed with rats. Maybe he actually did this, or maybe the person who wrote the film came up with it--not sure.

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    Clowns.

  17. #17
    Allegedly Gullible StormChord's Avatar
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    I'm afraid of being eaten by bugs. Very specifically bugs, for some reason. *shudder*

    When I was younger, I got nightmares from all sorts of bizarre sources - depressing episodes of ReBoot, odd books I read or had read to me, fears of monsters coming out of shadowy hallway walls, all that jazz.
    Also, at a young enough age, fears are often defined by how the grown-ups around you act; the eight-year-old might acquire phobias just by being told they're scary. That's what happened with me and a fear of the dark.
    Am I too stupid to care, or just too bored to think?


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    I'm not really crazy, I just like exploring all possibilities in things. If that happens to include angry flying bicycle catfish, that's not my problem.

  18. #18
    It's real for us rainbowsandunicorns's Avatar
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    My kids are seven and nine and these are there biggest fears right now: snakes (my daughter screams horribly, cries, runs away, and shakes for 1/2 an hour when she sees one), spiders, being touched with a spider, not being able to breathe, being squeezed around the chest ghosts, lizards, getting hooked by a fishhook in the mouth, and a lot of bugs in general.

    At sixteen I was afraid of: ghosts, my house being haunted, getting in trouble, doing bad in school, bugs/spiders, terrorists (9/11 happened when I was 15), and having problems with other kids/getting into a fight.

  19. #19
    Aye, ye scurvy dog! Sydneyd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rainbowsandunicorns View Post
    My kids are seven and nine and these are there biggest fears right now: snakes (my daughter screams horribly, cries, runs away, and shakes for 1/2 an hour when she sees one), spiders, being touched with a spider, not being able to breathe, being squeezed around the chest ghosts, lizards, getting hooked by a fishhook in the mouth, and a lot of bugs in general.

    At sixteen I was afraid of: ghosts, my house being haunted, getting in trouble, doing bad in school, bugs/spiders, terrorists (9/11 happened when I was 15), and having problems with other kids/getting into a fight.
    **shudder**

  20. #20
    If you're working on a story about a cult, you're probably already familiar with this site:

    http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/

    But if you're not, it's got a wealth of information about how Peoples Temple used fear and paranoia to manipulate members, including children.

    As for your specific question, here's something I was reading earlier tonight:

    "Debbie Blakey, a former member, told of a method of disciplining children in Jonestown.

    "Little children are scared by this thing called 'Bigfoot,' What they do if a child has done anything that most children do, and it is considered very bad... they are sent out to see 'Bigfoot.'

    "They are taken into the forest, down by Jones' cabin to a well," she said. "Two people would already be in the well swimming, it's dark and you can't see. The child is thrown in there... and the people that are in there will be grabbing the child's feet or pulling him down, making sure that he comes up for a breath.

    "You can hear the child screaming all the way there and... back, I'm sorry father, I'm sorry father...' [everyone in Jonestown called Jim Jones "father" or "dad"]

    "If he doesn't scream loud enough how sorry he is, Jim threatens that he'll send the child back down," she added.

    The Associated Press November 19, 1978, AM Cycle
    Hope this helps.

    take care,

    ---Jones() (no relation, btw)

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