Last night just before bedtime, C burst out crying suddenly for no apparent reason. Worried, both of us (my husband and I) asked her what the matter was. “Mummy, please don’t throw me into the sea! I don’t want to die!”
Shocked, both of us asked her what happened. She only cried and shook her head. I could only hug and reassure her until her sobs subsided.
Me: “Who told you that they will throw you into the sea?”
C: “No one. I don’t want to die!”
Me: “Did you watch any shows on tv?”
Me: “Don’t worry mummy will protect you. Why would you die at sea? You can swim, right?”
C: “Because there is a lot of salt in the water. I will die if I fall into the sea and I drank the seawater!”
I literally saw the lightbulb switching on in my head. She must have heard something during science class yesterday. My guess is that her teacher mentioned that sea water is not potable due to its high sodium (salt) content. The poor little girl heard “sea”, “salt”, “die” and linked the the facts together.
While some may find this funny, I was concerned. This fear was obviously very real to her. Imagine a 5year old thinking about dying at sea? It seems that her fears are linked to natural disasters -she has similar worries about earthquakes and floods. I’ve no problems about the boogeyman though(she tells me matter-of-factly that he doesn’t exist).
I’ve explained that earthquakes do not occur in Singapore due to our geographical location and that floods do subside after a while (she asks each time it rains heavily). As for the sea, well, I’ve reminded her that the last time she was at the beach she had a good time in the water, and that she survived. Eventually she was pacified after I told her that we will all protect her from harm, but I’m sure that the same issue will crop up again.
I need some advice. For fear of the dark, and creatures of the imagination, I can deal with. However, in this case I cannot simply say that these issues don’t exist, nor that people don’t die from natural disasters. Factual explanations on how we can prepare ourselves for such incidents don’t help either.
Have you encountered this situation? How would you deal with the issue?