Dealing with Childhood Fears and Phobias

Dealing with Childhood Fears and Phobias

Many children are shy or a little on the sensitive side. It may take some time for these kids to adjust to new settings or situations, and warm up to new people. It can be challenging to transition this type of personality to daycare or kindergarten. Parents know it will be a difficult shift for the child, at least in the beginning. But they may have experienced a similar struggle at the first few gymnastic classes, playgroups, or swim lessons, and over time the child enjoyed the activity. However, it may still have taken a few minutes of hesitation at the start of each session.

Fears and Phobias

As a protective parent, you might find comfort in knowing your fearful child goes through life proceeding with caution. The child who is not a rambunctious, Daredevil is more likely to lower himself or herself down from a couch or a swing, rather than fling their body in the air and launch off it. But, you should never assume! Kids will be kids. But having a child who is fearful of everything can be problematic. Some kids are afraid of sirens, lightning, dogs, ants, bees, and even other people. However, it is helpful if your child communicates. This is a list of common childhood fears and anxieties by age group:

Infants and Toddlers

  • Changes in the home
  • Large looming objects
  • Loud noises
  • Separation
  • Strangers
  • Sudden movements

Preschool Years

  • Animals (e.g., dogs)
  • Clowns
  • Darkness
  • Ghosts and monsters
  • Masks
  • Noises at night

School Years

  • Angry teachers
  • Being home alone
  • Fear of failure and rejection
  • Injury, illness, doctors, dentists, shots, or death
  • Losing a parent or a loved one
  • Loud storms
  • Scary news, movies, or TV shows
  • Snakes, spiders and other creepy crawlies

Appropriate to Have Fears

It is important to do some homework and consult with your pediatrician to come up with ways of dealing with your child’s specific phobias and fears. Here are a few easy steps to help guide your child:

  • Maintain a sense of calm and parental security (establish a predictable routine)
  • Limit the number of caretakers (trust and close bonds)
  • Don’t undermine your child’s feelings, or laugh at the fear
  • Acknowledge and valid the fear, so your child knows it is appropriate and normal to be afraid sometimes
  • Tackle each fear in small steps
  • Practice coping skills with a variety of methods, such as drawing, role-playing, or stuffed animals.
  • Reward all efforts, no matter how great or small
  • Allow your child to talk it out
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