From the Washington Post, a Q&A with the psychiatrist Daniel Pine about children and fear. Here’s a snippet:
Q. Are there certain types of situations that tend to inspire fear in children and adolescents more readily than they do in adults? If so, why?
Pine: There is a very strong relationship between age and the types of fears that people report in many different cultures. This tells us that there is something fundamental about the development, as it relates to fear. This begins early in life with fears of strangers, followed by fear of separation. Next, fears of very particular objects and scenarios arise, typically around the school age years. This includes things like fears of animals, thunderstorms, and the dark. Next, in adolescence, fears of various types of social experiences take on prominence — fear of meeting new kids, particularly of the opposite gender. Finally, in early adulthood, fear focus on more abstract constructs, such as fear [of] not measuring up to one’s ideals, as a human.