Are All Eight Year Olds Afraid of Everything?

The strawberry rides at the fair, a tiny train in Drumheller, driving down a steep hill in the car with us, getting out of the car to look at the stars when it’s dark outside because someone is going to be eaten by a bear.

What do those things have in common?

Those are just a handful of the things that has left our usually outgoing, extroverted and, adventurous kid in a state of panic, screaming at the top of her lungs, tears streaming down her face.

And now, after last night, we can add, sailing on the Edmonton Riverboat to the growing list of things that our child is afraid of – and it’s safe to say that my patience is wearing thin with the outright refusal to try new things, the outright inability to explain exactly what she’s scared of and the fact that I know, five (or forty) minutes into the experience she’s going to have so much fun. 

Are all eight year olds afraid of everything?

There have been hard stages of parenting at every age, but as our oldest – the ‘afraid of things to the point of on the brink of losing her mind’ has me on the brink of losing mind.

For me, experiences are like food – and I firmly believe that our kids should try the experience, at least once, even if they’re nervous – that’s when the magic happens right? Is that wrong? Is eight, and in a situation with parents, where we’ve got her best interest in mind, too much? Is it too much to nudge her out of her comfort zone, even if she’s crying at the thought of trying something new because of an unfounded fear?

As a parent, I get it – I get the fear, I get the anxiety, that the fears are in her mind, as real as me waving the Calm app in front of her face on my phone, encouraging her to use the breathing exercises.

Spoiler alert: the breathing exercises work like a charm

Over a forty minute ordeal last night, we switched off, reassured, tried to discover what exactly she was nervous about, breathed using the calm app and made small movements, with a lot of reassurance.

Still, I found I was having to check myself constantly throughout the process of dealing with these fears that I classify as unfounded – these fears that are cropping up more and more frequently, having me on ‘avert the panic’ mode and not in ‘enjoy the moment with all the kids’ mode.

Especially when twenty minutes after being on the verge of a panic attack about being on a riverboat, she’s running around doing The floss with some adorable kid she just met.

Do eight year olds stop being afraid of everything when they magically turn nine? What are some of your best resources for anxious kids? Is there a point when we should be seeking outside help?