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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