Helping young children with their fears

Parentree-editors 2008-08-15 09:02:48

All young children experience fears at some time or the other. As they grow up, what they fear may change too. Here are some tips that parents can use to help their children.

Common fears

Some of the common fears include:

  • Darkness. One study reported that 1/3rd of all young Indian children feared the dark1
  • Nightmares and bad dreams
  • Ghosts
  • Storms, thunder
  • Animals - wild ones, snakes, lizards
  • Being left behind or being left alone
  • Exams

Older children may also develop fears related to current events especially some of the more traumatic ones like terrorist bombings.

Help your child

When your child expresses fear, talk to him about it. Ask him to explain what he is afraid of and why. Explain to him that all of us have been afraid of something or the other when we were young. Additionally,  explain to him how you realised the fear was something you could work through.

Do not make fun of your child's fears. Do not try to force her to do something against her will either.

Reassure him that you will always be there for him. Make him feel secure.

Slowly try to work your child out of their fear. If she comes running back from a dark room, go in there and turn the lights on and show her there is nothing. Do it in a supportive way. Don't expect it to go away quickly. Help her to slowly understand there is nothing to fear.

If your child's fears involve school, talk to your child's teacher to see how they can help.

Sometimes, fear develops because the child is afraid that she may not be successful at something. Reassure her that the result is not important and that it is the effort she puts in that matters. It must be clear to the child that your love is unconditional.

Phobias & Anxiety

Sometimes fears can grow into much more - Phobias or Anxiety.

Phobias are an advanced state of fear, usually with an irrational basis.  Anxiety is a general feeling of stress with no specific stress. Both of these conditions, if they occur, can be easily treated by a health professional.


1. Bhavneet Bharti, Prahbhjot Malhi and Sapna Kashyap "Patterns and Problems of Sleep in School Going Children", Indian Pediatrics 2006; 43:35-38


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