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You are here : home > Raising Children > Fears and Anxieties > Managing your Child's Fears

Managing your Child's Fears

Managing your Child

Babies are fearless but when they grow up, fear creeps in their minds. They fear different things and sometimes their fears are irrational. The feeling of fear arises due to their imagination and curiosity. Read here to know about some different types of fears.


Babies are unpredictable. In the early days of their lives they are like fearless, intrepid explorers. They go boldly into the great unknown. Then overnight these brave adventurers become scared of their own shadows. They develop the most irrational fears. They are scared of the most innocuous things. Sometimes you can't help but feel impatient when you see your child screaming hysterically at the sight of a dog or at the sound of the fire engine alarm. The whole thing seems inexplicable. 

You have to understand that your child's early fearlessness stems from the fact that ignorance is bliss. What they don't know can't hurt them. This is why the same child that cheerfully put her hand between the jaws of a dog, will later run away screaming at the sight of a barking dog. Somewhere along the way she has learnt that dogs can bite. As the child grows older, her imagination and curiosity develop side by side. She learns the potential dangers of certain actions and objects and the reasons why it is so. As she makes these connections, her awareness makes her cautious and sometimes frightened. 

It has been observed that these fears develop more often in children for whom feeding and toilet training have been contentious issues, or in those who have overprotective parents or who have been regularly warned or cautioned against doing certain things. On the other hand, some children are just born sensitive. 

Fear of the dark

Fear of the dark is one of the most common childhood fears. This is also a fear that adults can most easily identify with. The average adult is not as confident and even a little shaky in the dark. The lack of the ability to see clearly acts as a spur to the imagination leading most people to imagine that somebody is creeping up on them. If your child is scared of the dark you can indulge her by leaving her bedroom door open or leaving a night light on. Keep her well occupied with games and other activities throughout the day so that she has no time to brood on her fears. In time, she will realize that there is nothing to fear.

Tangible fears

Sometimes children develop fears of tangible things like dogs, cockroaches, the water, men in uniforms, etc. It is not necessary for the child to have had a frightening experience with any of the objects of their fears. It will certainly not help to coerce them to overcome their fear by forcing them to confront the objects of their fears. There is a good chance that dragging your screaming child towards a dog or throwing her into a swimming pool is going to backfire. Children most often outgrow these fears themselves. Sometimes they find that acting out the fear, like pulverizing a stuffed toy dog, is therapeutic. 

Fear of death

Some children are scared of death and dying. They cannot understand what happens to their pets or people who die. This is not surprising as adults themselves are confused by death. Adults themselves find it difficult to comprehend the finality of it all and its relation to life. So how do you explain it to a child? Some parents choose to explain death in religious terms. They tell their child that the deceased has gone up to God in heaven. On the other hand, parents can just deal with death by saying that the person was old, weak and too tired to go on living. It is important that parents maintain a casual air and reassure their child that they will be around for years and years to come. 

Penis anxiety

Children often exhibit a fearful response at the sight of a crippled or deformed person. This stems from the apprehension that it could happen to them too. The difference in male and female genitalia can be a cause for concern for children. Boys feel that the absence of a penis in girls could mean that something terrible happened and may be the penis fell off. In which case, this makes them vulnerable too. The same thought occurs to little girls. They feel that they have been deprived of this essential body part in mysterious circumstances. Parents should explain that this difference is a given and that men and women are just made differently. The lack of a penis does not make a girl inferior to a boy in any way.

Some children, around the age of two, scream in protest when their stool is flushed down the pot. These children realize that the stool is a product of their body and become quite possessive about it. That is why they sometimes evince fear about flushing the pot because they feel that they are losing a part of themselves.

Fear at the movies

Some parents think that their child would find a trip to the movies a fascinating experience. Picking out an appropriate animated feature, they sally forth with the child. Much to their astonishment, the child begins to wail when the wicked witch appears in the first five minutes and demands to be taken home. Parents must remember that children below the age of seven often find it difficult to separate fiction and reality because of their overactive imaginations. Thus, movies may not be a good idea for children in this age group. 

A positive approach

Always keep in mind that while you may not understand the child's fear, it is very real to her. Ridiculing the fear or chastising your child for being a coward is not going to make the situation any better. Encourage her to talk about her fear. You must instill confidence in her by assuring her that nothing bad is going to happen and that you are right by her side. While it is important to be sympathetic, do not overdo it. Your child may get the message that her fears are justified. 

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Amber.6 years ago
My 19month old is afraid of leaves, trees, flowers, bushes, plants, I have a small hand size statue of a butterfly and flower, she is afraid to look at it. She screams and after you can feel little Trimbles in her body. We first noticed this when we went to the children's museum. We took her near some plants in the garden area she screamed so loud I was scared someone would call the police on us.
Jenn.7 years ago
My daughter was terribly afraid of monsters at night. Recently we purchased the Monster Security System. From the very first night, as if by magic, it provided her with the confidence to sleep through the night! It has been great. Check out
kamini.9 years ago
my 4 yr old son has cerebral palsy. he has achieved all the milestones but the only obstacle for him is his fear. he is very scared of standing or walking if we r not around. even if he sits in the chair without a table infront he gets scared.

his fear is his only enemy....we as parents have tried both polite and harsh talk with him over the 3 yrs but his fear stays put.

dont know what to do. how can i make him overcome his fear of falling? plz help.
Saransh.10 years ago
i am terrified of dogs and i want to make sure that my son does not grow up to be scared of dogs (he is only 13 months). so i try to go out of my way to show him dogs at close proximity. once a fear takes root, it is difficult to remove.
chiragi.10 years ago
my two year daughter was terrified by fire crackers.but very patiently i made her sit on my laps,whereass my husband fired small small crackers near us and we both explained her about me being with her and it's not going to harm her can you imagine within 2 days she started firing the small crackers by herself.
Sharda Ramlackhan
Sharda Ramlackhan.10 years ago
sometimes a child is not just afraid of fireworks, or dog barking. they are afraid of many low and high frequency sounds. such sounds include fireworks, dog barking, babies crying, children and people voices, lawn mowers, vacum cleaners, drills, rain falling, thunder, fire drills and fire engines, sirens, telephone ringing. low frequency sounds such as people breathing, chewing, swallowing, referigerator humming, computer and printer, washing maching etc.

i am a practitioner in auditory integration training, with this procedure i desensitize the children's hearing. an intense program of sound stimulation varying in pitch and intensity(using music and headphones), activates the middle and inner ear which then transmits sound to the brain via the auditory nerve. the sound stimulation improves aural flexibility and enhances the transmission of sound to the brain. in the auditory system, going from the eardrum to the brain cells, concise zones exist corresponding to low-pitches and high-pitches tones. these parts are not anatomically similar on the eardrum, on the cochlea, and perhaps in the brain itself. if one or the other of these areas of the auditory system is stimulated by certain programmed alternating sounds, the same identical result as that obtained by mobilization of the elbow is achieved. if anyone wants further information on ait or my upcoming session in chennai in january, they can correspond with me via email: also visit my website at:

please read my comments in speech, hearing and vision development site of the page.

sharda ramlackhan, m.a.
54 jennifer road, lowell, ma 01854-2106 tel: 978-458-3277
Krishna.10 years ago
i have two daughters. my elder daughter
used to hit things to my younger daughter
about a year back, when she was 3 years
old. once my wife locked her in bathroom for 5
minutes. since than she has stoped hiting my
younger daughter, but cannot stay alone in
any room. she has developed fear of being locked
by somebody. she is also very much scared of her
can any one suggest some way to remove her fear
of being locked in room.
my e-mail:

Janaki.10 years ago
parents are also responsible in building up fears in the child. for example,if a childis too fusy to have food, the mother tries to feed her by calling all ghosts(gogaya), ghurka, lion etc.
sometimes, it so happens the child will not head to elders unless she is scared of the above things. hence , elders should realize that they should not contribute in building up the fears in the child.
Seema.10 years ago
my son gets scared and anxious of many small things like not wearing full sleaves shirts and full pants, going to school and gets disturbed at night too and speaks out related things while sleeping.
any suggestions are welcome at
vijayalakshmi.10 years ago
my son aged 9 gets up at some nights and seems to be frightened for something for no proper reasons. and he is not aware of that when asked the next morning. he continues to sleep after 3 or 4 minutes after consoling him.
valid remedial suggestions are welcome!
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