Fear - an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger (Merriam-Webster)
How does one derive fear? Are we born with fear? Do we learn fear from others? Do we learn fear from our own experience?
I would say that most fear probably comes from our experience. But what about little kids? Some of them are scared of things at an early age. Where do they learn that?
In my dealings with animals it seems that they are born with fear. Many of them rely on fear to keep them aware of predators. Fear fuels their fight or flight response. Some people might argue it is instinct not fear, and I might agree in some cases. I would also say that I have cornered many animals meaning them no harm in my life and seen something in their eyes that looked a lot like fear to me. Others may say that the fear is learned from their mother. When a coyote comes along the mother deer runs. The baby deer then runs as well. The baby deer is smart enough to follow mom even if she doesn't know why. Eventually the baby learns what to "fear".
I really don't know these answers, but I have always been intrigued by the genetics versus learned behavior question. My interest has even increased since becoming a Dad. Recently I've been thinking about that question as it applies to fear. I see some kids that are afraid of their own shadows. They are afraid of thunder, dogs, the dark, the water, the vacuum, the mail man, the frying pan, the toaster, the couch, and the toilet.
I see no such fear anywhere in my son. If the answer to my query is that you are born with a fear instinct then Braden must have just missed out completely.
We took him to the local water park a couple weeks ago for the first time. He got in the kiddie pool and waded around. He played with the fountains. He splashed a little. The pool is 2 feet deep or less so I was having a hard time getting wet. Finally I just laid down in the water. Braden loved that. He laughed and smiled and tried to do the same. The rest of the day Arica and I spent our time trying to keep Braden from purposefully going under water. If kids are supposed to learn fear Braden is missing out on that too. Each time he went under water he would come up gasping and coughing yet he would do it again a few minutes later.
Braden's teacher at his new school has told Arica recently that he scares her to death because he isn't afraid of anything. They have gymnastic like climbing mats in class. One of them is like a steep triangle shaped hill. Braden runs down this thing at great personal risk to his health. At home he gets on the ottoman and jumps off like a crazy person.
So far I don't know of anything that scares this kid. No amount of knots on his head seem to deter his dare devil spirit either.
Braden may never know an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger, but he instills that emotion in his parents every day.