Dealing With Children’s Fears

  1. Remember the fear is very real to your child.
  2. Take the child seriously and offer calm, low key reassurance.
  3. If the child awakes during the night and is fearful, reassure him/her. Stay until the child goes back to sleep or feels better. Do not put the child in bed with you. This pattern will be hard to break later.
  4. Many times a child’s fears are similar in type and number to the fears of their parents.
  5. Remember that as a parent you can pass on your fears by your actions or comments.
  6. By forcing a child to deal with a frightening situation you often intensify the fear.
  7. A child’s fears are often based on a misconception. Provide understanding guidance to helpthe child clear this up.
  8. Remember that the passage of time along with your understanding helps to dispel fear.
  9. Fears are very normal in children. They often come about during times of the child’s emerging independence.
  10. Fears may stem from a variety of sources.
    1. scenes on T.V.
    2. dreams
    3. experiences with animals
    4. increasing awareness of body
    5. new situations
    6. storms
    7. overly demanding social situations
  11. Do not expect fears to disappear overnight even with your help and understanding.
  12. Do not criticize or shame the child for his/her fears. Some common fears of children are listed below.
    1. A fear of the bathtub is often expressed by children around the age of 15 months.
    2. Stranger anxiety is experienced by children at 18 months. This is when the child feels threatened by people he/she does not know.
    3. Fear of a doctor is experienced throughout childhood. This fear may be due to the aspect of being examined as well as the fear of pain such as a shot. Often it is helpful to demonstrate on mother or a favorite toy.
    4. Bedtime fears increase during the preschool years.
    5. During the ages of three to four years children often express fear of things they cannot see, i.e. the boogeyman.