What your child fears and how to help her beat them

November 05, 2018
  • 1 / 10

    Children can be afraid of anything. For some, it is fear of specific objects such as cats, dogs, creepy crawlies or things that go bump in the night. For others, it is fear of certain experiences, for instance, swimming or climbing, or fear of new challenges.

    Related: 5 ways to fight childhood stress

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  • 2 / 10

    Childhood fears are often irrational, and most of the time, parents do not know why their child is afraid of this and not that, or why their older child is terrified of something while his younger sister does not bat an eyelid.

    Related: Singapore boy develops anxiety disorder after being caned since age 2

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  • 3 / 10

    Fears need not be very strong – most are mild and, for much of the time, do not have any significant impact on your child, unless she is actually confronted with the focus of her fear (for instance, she is not afraid until she actually sees a spider). Sometimes childhood fears are intense enough to have a disruptive effect on a child’s life, but this is unusual.

    Related: Help your child with separation anxiety in preschool

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  • Facts about fears
    4 / 10 Facts about fears

    • Nine out of 10 young children have a specific mild fear at some point in their growing years, which suggests that having mild fears is perfectly normal.

     The typical child aged three or four has approximately three different fears, but some have more.

    Related: 6 tips to overcome a fear of animals

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  • Facts about fears
    5 / 10 Facts about fears

    • Children in this age group show evidence of being afraid, on average, once every four or five days, with some more afraid than others.

    • Girls tend to have more fears than boys, and boys’ fears usually tend to be less intense than the girls’.

    • The most common fears of children include fear of small animals and insects, of darkness, of strangers, of loss of parental love and of injury.


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  • Treat their fear with respect
    6 / 10 Treat their fear with respect

    True, your child’s fear may seem trivial to you, but it is very real to her. She does not behave this way just for fun, so do not treat her in a way which may suggest you think she is silly. You know what it feels like to be afraid, so avoid ridicule or teasing.


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  • Reassure them when they are afraid 
    7 / 10 Reassure them when they are afraid 

    She genuinely believes her fear is unbeatable. She needs you to reassure her that she will cope. Keep reminding her of that in a gentle tone. She gains emotional strength from your confidence in her. A sympathetic and supportive hand on her shoulder will also help.

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  • Discourage avoidance
    8 / 10 Discourage avoidance

     Your child will not learn to beat her fear if she constantly avoids the thing that she is afraid of. It will even make matters worse because she will not have a chance to develop coping skills. She has to face her fear – with your backing – before she becomes confident enough to overcome it.

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  • Persist with your support
    9 / 10 Persist with your support

    Keep working with your child. Be patient with her until she has conquered her fear. Accept that some fears are harder to change than others, but that they can all be changed eventually. She needs you to persist with your support until she has made significant progress; she needs you to believe in her.

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  • Praise progress
    10 / 10 Praise progress

    With your help, your child will eventually make progress, though this may be in very small stages, a little step at a time. Show your delight when you see that she is more confident and less afraid than she was previously – this gives her further incentive to continue with her efforts.

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

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How do you know if you're too soft with your preschooler? Most children like to have or do whatever they want – and that’s where learning to follow rules and thinking about others come in. A positive, warm, fair and consistent style of discipline at home encourages your child to think of others, not just of herself. However, some parents prefer to take a softer approach. But where do you draw the line? Here are 10 signs that you may be too soft with your kid. 1. You never say “no”
No matter how well behaved, every child needs to have limits set on their behaviour at times. And that’s why every parent – including you – occasionally has to say “no” to their kid, whether it’s denying her request for extra sweets, or refusing to let her play past her bedtime. 
2. When she complains, you always give in
It’s very difficult to stand your ground in the face of a raging child who is determined to get her own way. But if you give in to your kindergartener every time she challenges you, she’ll quickly learn that you don’t mean what you say, and she’ll scream even louder the next time. 
3. Her cupboards are full of unopened toys
Although she is bound to have her favourite toys, there’s no point in giving her so much that she just stuffs unopened packages in her cupboard. That suggests you give her too much, too often. 
4. Others say that your child is spoilt
You probably don’t think you overindulge her, so it might come as a shock to you when your friends suggest that you spoil her and are too soft. But if they have noticed this, maybe you need to step back and consider the comment more seriously. 5. She always expects to get her way
Part of growing up involves learning to think of others. A child who is treated too softly by her parents expects to be in the driver’s seat all the time, even with friends. So she assumes, for example, that she’ll always be first in line at every game. 6. You never carry out your threats of punishment
Positive discipline also involves appropriate punishment, when required.  If you find that you make regular threats but never actually carry them out, then your six-year-old will realise you are a soft touch, and that your warnings are hollow. 7. You allow her to be rude to you
Instead of reprimanding her for antisocial and impolite comments, you accept what she says without challenge, perhaps because you think she is being cute. Bear in mind, though, that although you may be tolerant of her rudeness, others won’t be so accepting of it. 8. She is allowed to break the rules all the time
Some people say that rules are made to be broken, but they are usually made to be observed. That’s why you need to encourage her to follow the limits you have set. A soft parent bends the rules so often that they become meaningless. 9. Every day is a “special occasion” Of course, there are days when normal discipline is interpreted more flexibly, for example, on her birthday, at a large family gathering, or during holidays. But these should be infrequent occurrences, not something that happens several times each week. 10. You buy her something every single shopping trip One of the delights of parenting is buying your child a special present – her reaction is heart-warming. However, these experiences become less important if they happen during every shopping expedition, and she will soon lose interest. (Photos: 123RF.com)

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