3 Creepy Things That Small Kids Do

by | Oct 31, 2018

halloween pumpkin

Why can kids be so creepy? In particular small ones? And before you question the legitimacy of my inquiry or chastise me for being unkind about children, let me please draw your attention to the following creepy child specimens: Damien from The Omen, the twins from The Shining, the kid from The Sixth Sense. They all haunt me, those quiet-voiced, staring little beings, whenever I have to stay in a hotel by myself or get something from downstairs in the middle of the night.  And if you want to take it up a notch in terms of emotional damage, consider the gangs of little people from Village of the Damned and Children of the Corn.

Or, if you want to ruin the rest of your TV-viewing life then I can definitely suggest that you watch The Ring. You’ll be waiting for that wet-haired dead girl to claw her way out of the well and exit your telly screen every time you’re home alone. Even better, watch the Japanese version Ringu. Not to be confused with Pingu, Ringu will have you so terrified that you’ll smash up your television set with a mallet and then – possibly – pop out your own eyeballs with a teaspoon so that you no longer have to worry about seeing Samara the well-dweller hauling her dripping body out onto your living room rug.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that there’s a reason that creepy films often have kids in and that is because kids have a natural ability to scare the absolute bejeezus out of you. At any given hour of the day, if you are home alone with a tiny child, they will do something that – if put to a shrieking violin-sawing soundtrack – would be a proud moment in any psychological thriller. Here are the top three creepy things that small kids do:


Cats and dogs do this, too (usually when you’re on your own and it’s stormy outside and you’re too scared to close the curtains because your reflection might turn into the face of an old man with empty eye sockets) but kids, especially tiny ones, are excellent at staring intently at things that aren’t there. So intently that you begin to question whether there might be something in the space between the doorway and the cooker after all. Wait, you think; did the cobweb hanging down from the extractor fan just move as though brushed by an invisible hand?

Of course, the phrase that comes to mind every time a child or animal in my house stares intensely at one particular spot in the room is: “I see dead people”. We have Cole Sear from The Sixth Sense to thank for that one.

There are too many layers of dreadfulness to unpick when it comes to the idea of kids seeing dead people (layer one, most importantly, WTF are dead people doing hanging about in the kitchen next to the AGA?) but the comforting thing is that they tend to stare at empty spaces all the time. In cafes. On the street. In the park. So if they are seeing dead people (I have no idea how this post descended so quickly into such realms of darkness but now I can’t seem to stop) then at least they are everywhere and not just in the kitchen/at the end of your bed.

Moving on.


Is there anything more terrifying than a whispering child in a horror movie? (An empty, creaking rocking chair almost pips it to the post, but not quite.) I mean, it can be eerie enough when kids whisper as a form of communication with actual living humans, but when they whisper and there’s nobody there… Good God, it’s enough to make me want to permanently seal my slow rebound foam earplugs into my ear canals.

“Don’t be sad Jeremy Jones, nobody will lock you in the cupboard now.”

Whispering children are one of my worst horror movie nightmares. And so I do not fare well in real life when I enter a room and a child is conversing with an unknown entity in their creepiest quiet voice. Thankfully it has only happened once with Angelica and she was just telling secrets to her giraffe (“SPEAK UP ANGELICA! THAT’S THE WAY, MY GIRL! TRA LA LA, NO WHISPERING HERE, WE SPEAK LOUDLY AND CLEARLY WHEN MUMMY IS AROUND!”) but I have looked after other kids before in the past and they have had nice old whispery chats with various people who (hopefully) didn’t exist, namely (not that they are etched into my memory or anything) “Henry the Hat Man”, “Grammy Po-Po” and “Jacob”.

(Flashback to me, aged twenty, demanding that the next door neighbour’s four year old tells me who Grammy Po-Po is.

“Is she your granny, your grammy? Are you pretending to be on the phone to Granny?”

“Nope! She here with us!”

“Right. She’s obviously not, though is she, so let’s stop being silly. I’m trying to deal with a power cut and I only have the light of this one last candle left and the fuse box is of course in the basement and your parents aren’t back for another six hours so just tell me where Grammy Po-Po lives, OK?”

“She’s in the wall.”)


Sorry, but the imaginary friend thing is a no-go in this house. If either Angelica or Ted think they’re having an imaginary friend in the future then they can think again, because nothing – I repeat nothing – is more creepy to me than a small friend who does not exist, who forces a child to stare into empty spaces and also whisper at them. It’s triple whammy creepy and I’m just not having it, thank you very much. One whiff of an imaginary friend and I’m shoving them into the backseat of my imaginary car and driving them to the next imaginary village.

The problem with these imaginary friends is that they rarely seem to be a boring old generic child, one from a storybook or cartoon, who sits and drinks imaginary tea and likes to discuss the merits of various Paw Patrol characters. No, imaginary friends seem to invariably have complex backstories that are way too advanced for a small child to have invented and that is the most unnerving thing. Because, you do start to wonder, if you’re like me and have an overactive imagination all of your own: how much of that complex backstory is imagined?

Take, for example, the child of a friend who sat having a right old natter with her imaginary person for about half an hour before her Mum intervened.

“Who are you talking to poppet?”

“To Mary, Mummy!”


“Yes, Mummy. Red eyed Mary with the black cloak.”

“Red eyed Mary?” (ALARM BELLS! WTF? I’d be legging it down the stairs before they’d even finished the sentence!)

“Yes, Mummy, she has been crying. Mary was trapped for a very long time but now she is free!”

“Trapped?” (Run, run like the wind!)

“Yes, Mummy. Her employer was a very mean man and she was kept for five and twenty days in the attic!”

Five and twenty days. Ugh. Shudder me timbers.

What else is creepy when it comes to small kids? Oh yeah – dolls. Nothing like a doll staring up at you in the torch beam, wide-eyed, when you’re trying to find the Calpol dispenser in the dark. Cue the crazy violin solo. FWEE FWEE FWEE FWEE! Even teddies can scare the living daylights out of you when they appear in random places.

To be fair, many of you – especially those who have never been so stupid as to watch horror movies with kids in – will be wondering what the hell this post is about. I applaud you, I really do. The rest of you, please add some more creepy things to the list by leaving a comment below. I forgot to mention that weird, off-key singing that children do – that’s a horror movie classic that, isn’t it? Mary had a little lamb…


  1. Think the Daily Mail have taken their inspiration for this article from you Ruth- not sure if that is a compliment!

  2. When my eldest was almost a year, my husband’s grandfather died. I was changing the baby and he, who was not normally a smiling, waving happy baby, turned to look up to a top shelf where we kept a toy made by great grandpa, smiled and waved. We got news of his death that night.

  3. Ha ha that’s so well written and so true! Since having a baby, my boyfriend and I offen say that horror movies writers probably get inspiration from their children ! It starts during pregnancy, when their movements deform your belly so much that you expect the Alien to burst out. Then when they are tiny they make sounds in their sleep next to your bed, just like when the music stops in a movie.
    But for me the worse was the habit my tiny baby had to sometimes stare behind my shoulder with a terrorized look on his face when I would pick him up. Always when I was alone with him in a not well lit room. I needed to turn around to look behind me but feared to do so. What was he seeing!?!?
    Thanks for the funny posts!
    By the way, I’m really late to answer, but it was I who suggested the “strange boring subject” posts. I discovered your post about it weeks after it was published and I was so astonished and happy that you liked my idea! I’ve been reading your posts for years, it was so strange to see you speak of me!
    Thanks for all your work, your writing is always fun!

    • Do you know I think about that idea still a few times a week! I’ve just been too busy to commit to it but it’s on the agenda. Brilliant idea! And yes, the shoulder-staring thing is WELL FREAKY.

  4. At an antique store I go to on summer vacation, there is a room full of antique dolls. It’s major creepy, and my son won’t even walk in there.
    Glad I had boys instead of girls because for some reason, little girls seem more the culprits in the quiet whispering, imaginary friend situation. My oldest boy used to let out this terrifying wail on the baby monitor. We thought he was having the worst nightmare, but we’d go in his room and he’d be asleep in his crib. Major creepy! Great post!

  5. Oh my god, my sister had 3 girls and 2 boys. I was staying over and babysitting one night and the middle girl starts crying. Run into the room to hush her so the other million children don’t wake up. To have her saying ‘It’s behind you’ in a non panto way!!! Grab child, peg it down the stairs. Lights on to watch Disney films till we both fell asleep. I’ve always clutched to the fact she had night terrors when getting poorly and that’s all it was. Maybe a bout of head cold on its way……

  6. Oh how I’m laughing at this and all the comments. Really needed a good laugh today! My son(who is a little bit older than Angelica) is currently terrified of the dark and will only sleep with a night light on. So far, so normal-ish. But he keeps telling us he needs it on as there is someone walking outside his room, very very slowly. ARGHHHH

    I think he gets it from me though. When I was about the same age I used to tell my mum about a man that used to hide under our stairs. Or sometimes in the bottom of the garden. But he was a friendly man who brought me pretend sweets. My dad worked away from home so there was a good two years that she was permanently awake thanks to the ‘man’. Turns out the house was apparently haunted by a previous owner who was a school master and was seen by more than one child. Always with sweets and in the garden. Creeping myself out writing that!

  7. Oh Ruth! I have a week old newborn and currently in bed with him during a night feed, sitting wide eyed and hoping no nasties are lurking in the corner!

    I’m now going to be questioning every murmer he makes whilst my back is turned

  8. Loved this- particularly the staring into spaces part! So my little one (who’s the same age as Angelica) came out with the other day: Mummy, how can you play pass the parcel without a parcel. To which I replied, ‘I don’t think you can.’ And Orla said, ‘yes you can. You just pass round a grown-up and then every time the music stops you peel off a layer of skin.’
    I slept with one eye open that night, I can tell you!

  9. A friend had her 2 year old nephew to stay at her flat. All was well until he suddenly stopped playing, stared at the letterbox and shouted, “Fingers!” She picked him up and he began freaking out, crying, “Icy fingers through the letterbox!” over and over.

    • *seals up letterbox with five rolls of tape, nails plank of wood over it, leaves town*

  10. This is brilliant. To add to your list:
    1. Standing in doorways. Eg my 3 year old daughter standing silently in the doorway to her bedroom (bed hair all over her face like the girl from the Ring) when she wakes up, just waiting for me to walk past on my way to the loo. Argh.
    2. ‘who just came into my room mummy?’ – when she and I are reading a story in her room at bedtime. Alone. And no-one is in the house. ARGH.
    3. ‘a ghost came into my room last night and was looking at me!’ – delivered in a cheery upbeat tone.

    • Oh my God. The other night her toy play house came on and started saying “big bird UP! little bird DOWN!” at about 3am. I freaked right out.

  11. Why did I read these right before bed?! the dogs better not stare at the wall and bark tonight or I’m going to a hotel. Your blog is always fun, I look forward to all the posts and videos.

  12. Oh, my days! I Lol’d so much reading all that! I totally do the not looking at my reflection in case it morphs into something else! And not forgetting the running up the last half of my staircase two steps at a time, for fear a hand reaches through the bannister! Or a hand reaches through the gap in the door as I turn the wall light switch off! My kids, now 25 and 19, are completely sane thank goodness, but I terrify myself!! Fantastic reading, Ruth!!

    • Oh, the bannister thing… Crikey. I do that too!

  13. Brilliant! I was telling my 4 year old daughter about somewhere exciting I had been to when I was a little girl, and she simply responded with, “I know. I was there. I saw you.”


  14. I am now absolutely terrified. My niece is coming to stay tomorrow (she’s 2). Can I hide behind the settee until she goes away???

    • Absolutely. Especially if she’s a whisperer.

  15. Hysterical article and hilarious comments :-) There is a thread on reddit about this topic that literally convinced me ghosts and reincarnation are real – just google “reddit creepy children” (not late at night or alone though!).

  16. Omg
    The intently staring at nothing thing. When my baby was just 2 months old, I was breastfeeding her in the middle of the night, everyone else at home was asleep.

    She was feeding and also intently staring somewhere between my head and the ceiling. Suddenly she left the boob and gave a wide toothed grin looking at that spot.

    I was so frightened, I screamed for help and just couldn’t bring myself to look up above my head.

    She is now 6 and that episode is still scary as shit! I am alone at home now and I am too scared to walk to the bedroom from the kitchen

  17. It’s even creepier when they can’t offer an explanation! I work in a year 1 class and there is a child on the autistic spectrum who has very limited speech. One day all the children are sitting on the carpet for the maths lesson and he starts singing, really quietly, “happy birthday” to “Jonathan” whilst looking to the side. There are no children in the class called Jonathan. He doesn’t know anyone called Jonathan. All adults in the room sh*t themselves.

  18. Red Eyed Mary?!!!!! FIVE AND TWENTY DAYS????!!! Oh my god I’m dying. I might believe in ghosts now.

    My sister had a regularly occurring imaginary friend as a child called Mr. Nobody. Now if he was a spirit, he must’ve been a creep if he wouldn’t even give his real name.

  19. When my husband was little, he had a couple of imaginary friends called Helen and Dee Dee.

    For some reason they liked to live in the keyhole of the downstairs toilet. He spends so much time in the loo these days I suspect he probably still has a little chat with them.


  20. My daughter, at age 3, found a safety pin on the floor, picked it up, and toddled over to her aunt (my little sis), who was lying on a sofa. She looked right at her, held the pin up, and said, “I going to keel you wis dis pin.”


    (For the record, my daughter is now 17 and as sweet as pie. I think…)

  21. Bought a smile to my miserable face.

    My one is pets………lived in an old rectory in the attic flat bats hitting the window etc, the whole family were watching hammer house of horrors, my dog Bess was lying by the t.v asleep, there was a big howl we all assumed it was on the telly, then the dog howled again, the while family pooped!!lol

    • Ha! Bats are creepy, so are moths. Giant ones that smash into the windows!

  22. Good God Ruth, I laughed so hard I cried. Your writing is brilliant…and yes, little kids are creepy AF. Here is a story for you from the family chronicles…my son at the age of 3 had an imaginary friend. He overheard me say his friend was a figment of his imagination…so his IF’s name became Figma (of course). One day I noticed there was no mention of said IF, so I casually asked “what’s Figma doing these days”. Stone cold, straight faced my blue eyed angel replied “I killed him”. Now what the hell do you do with that? Say “that’s nice dear” or “oh lovie, we must avoid killing our friends”? Nope, mum finishes folding laundry and puts it away. BTW – my son is a lovely young man who takes out his anger doing stand up comedy.

    • Oh my GOD!!!!! Figma! I love it! Is Figma part of his stand up routine ever?

  23. Kids can definitely be creepy! My niece used to wake up in the middle of the night and stand next to her mom’s bed but not say anything. Eventually my sister in law would wake up to her daughter just standing there staring at her! I’d freak.

    Angela at Blush & Pearls

    • I was goiing to post this exact thing with the exception of it being MY daughter and ME. I would bolt straight up and say “JEEEEZES WHAT is it?!” While grabbing her and pulling her into bed with me. She would just go back to sleep. I, on the other hand, would lie awake for hours until dawn when everyone knows all evil creatures must return to “the other side” and then I could sleep for the one hour I had left to me #momlife

  24. I am not one to watch horror movies (I accidentally saw The Sixth Sense and it haunted me for weeks), but still my daughters imaginary friend (he lives in your cupboard, mommy. His name is Dody) freaked me out for the months he was living with us.

    Anne – Linda, Libra, Loca

    • I’d be locking that cupboard up sharpish.

  25. The GIF of Lil Yachty after you learned Grammy PO PO was in the walls had me dying!! You have me shooketh as the kids say these days.

  26. I had an imaginary dog called Alice when I was 7 yrs old for about a year, but then it ran away and I never saw it again LOL. #Fruitcake

  27. This is extraordinarily well written and deserves an award of some kind!

    • Why thank you. All awards accepted.

  28. “She’s in the wall.”


  29. Funny, funny, funny. I love your writing Ruth, you need to write a book.

  30. I’m loving the way AMR is going. Rock on with the random crazy stuff! I’m a total fan of the beauty info too but this is great.

    • Hahahaha. Sometimes I get too beauty-saturated in my head and just have to do what I love to do. Writing about nonsense. x

  31. Or when you wake up and they’re peering at you, bent over your face like in a horror movie! Bloody terrifying.

      • Oh yes-they’re excellent at that trick! My lifespan is significantly shorter thanks to my two creepy, sneaky kids who used to love doing that!!

        • Yes they’re like small ninja’s!! How do they get so close, so quietly?!

  32. I love this post. I’m suddenly reminded of this scene from Insidious… watch with caution!


    • Honestly, I daren’t click!!

      • oooh no. No thank you!

  33. I am so like you. I’m a grown woman and can’t sleep with my arm hanging off of the bed. My mother told the story of my brother at about 18 months old. He would wake up in the middle of the night screaming and crying. When she went in his room he was screaming and pointing at the empty corner and saying, “Lady, lady!” The next morning, my very blond mother, found a long black hair in his crib. I think kids and dogs see things that we don’t.

    • I can’t sleep with my feet out of the covers.

  34. Hahahaha I have been reading and loving your posts for years but this is the first time I really felt the need to applaud you for this hilarious post! Happy halloween! P.s. No children yet but sure as hell my ovaries went for a long holiday untill I can shake off the image of Red Eye Mary!

  35. Thank you for what must be one of the best Halloween posts ever. I am crying with laughter on the bus.

  36. Ruth, this is your best yet. I actually LOLLED and at 34, am too old to use the term, but I did!

    Big fan of all the lifestyle/random updates, even though my four-month old baby is upstairs and my husband is out driving a friend home and the baby monitor has started to seem creepy…



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