April 10th, 2011 | 10 Comments

Help Your Child Overcome Fear!

Note to Reader: As adults we often forget to see things from a child’s perspective. I knew a child that heard her dad might get fired..for months she was fearful that he was going to catch on fire.( I can’t make this stuff up.) Much fear can be alleviated by discussing a reasonable outcome with children. Children do not understand adult situations and should be reminded that above all they are safe and loved. Daddy might get fired which means he might lose his job. If dad were to lose his job we will do A,B, and C and we will be fine. I love these gentle and stress free tips from Jean!

by Jean Tracy, MSS

Fears paralyze children. If your child has one fear or many, keep reading. Find out what you can do.

Fear in children is normal. But when your child surrenders to imagined fears, you need to help.

How Kids’ Normal Fears Become Stressful Fears:

Normal fears include:

  • Fear of the dark
  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of unpopularity
  • Fear of bugs

Even though these fears don’t physically harm kids, they can balloon into emotional stress. When kids (and adults) feed these fears by imagining the worst over and over again, they believe them. This is stress.

How Some Fears Start:

Let’s say Max, the neighbor boy, loves to scare your son, Brent. Beetles are Max’s weapon of choice. Black beetles with hard shiny backs and fast crawling legs. Max calls out, “Hey, Brent, come here!” He tosses the beetle at Brent.

Brent runs home screaming. Max laughs and yells, “You big baby!” Brent’s fear of beetles, bugs, and spiders has just begun. What can you do?

5 Parenting Tips for Helping Your Child Overcome Fear:

  1. Be patient. Like parents of children who fear the dark, you must take tiny steps. Don’t push your child to race beyond his courage. Go slow. Do the following activities on different days.
  2. Draw the fear. Tell Brent, “Let’s draw bugs together.” Congratulate him. Touch the bugs in his drawings. Ask him if anything happened when you touched them? Then ask him to touch the bugs. Congratulate him again.
  3. Read about bugs together. When you’re done reading, ask Brent to touch the pictures of the realistic bugs in the book. Don’t push him. If he touches them, congratulate him for being brave.
  4. Find some real bugs to examine. Ask Brent, “What do you notice about these bugs? Do you think they are afraid of you? Who’s bigger?” Check out more bugs too.
  5. Pick up a harmless looking bug. Ask Brent if he’d like to hold it too. Congratulate him when he does.

Brent may never like bugs. But because you helped him overcome his fear, he will tolerate them. He won’t be called a “Baby!” He won’t run home screaming either.

Conclusion for Helping Your Child Overcome Fear:

  • Be patient.
  • Take tiny steps.
  • Find out your child’s raw spots.
  • Find out how the fear started.
  • Find out what truly upsets him.
  • Learn what he thinks is the worst thing that will happen.

Then ask yourself, ‘How can I create tiny steps to help him “see” for himself the fear is harmless?’ This is your power and your privilege. You can give your child the courage to see through his fears.

This article is from Jean Tracy, MSS at www.KidsDiscuss.com . Jean is an author, mother, teacher, and a family counselor for over 20 years. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter

Fears often grows with negative self talk. Children can use positive statements to undo negative fear based thoughts and chatter. The Indigo Dreams CD series all include a story that introduces children to positive statements or affirmations.

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10 Comments on “Help Your Child Overcome Fear!”

  • Great article – a girl after my own heart. I always see the child perspective but most parents don’t. I think it is super important and we should do more of it.


  • Lovely post! This will be very helpful to parents of anxious children. I love Jean’s work, as well as yours, Lori!

    I’ll be sharing across my social media outlets!

    Wendy @Kidlutions =)

  • Thanks Wendy, I always appreciate your kindness and generosity in helping others.

  • My son its 7, and he is scare of sleeping in his room, he locks all the doors and has been sleeping in our room for the past month. Everyday the fear gets worse.. What can I do?? I also have a 4months.

  • One of my children went through a period like that. Of course, trying to get to the bottom of what he is actually afraid of will help. You can also set up a sleeping bag on the floor in your room for him to sleep in so that you have more space in your bed. (if that is a problem). Playing hide and seek in his room during the day and with a flashlight can help you son realize there is nothing to be afraid of, if he is afraid of the dark or something under the bed.

  • My oldest had to be taken out of pre-k bc of her separation anxiety with mommy. She’s never been away from me very long @ all. When I talk about school, she gets even more attached to me! How can I prepare her for kindergarten? Help, please!

  • Hi Kimmie, I know just what you mean, perhaps this Back to School article and tips can help. http://bit.ly/daDv9v
    You may also enjoy reading Stress Free Kids: A Parent’s Guide http://amzn.to/16VwUlw

  • […] Common parenting tips for any kind of fear are to understand fears are real, don’t belittle kids for being afraid and have a lot of patience; the process of overcoming fears doesn’t happen overnight. Patience, fun and humor are your best allies in helping kids cope with their fears. […]

  • My sister hasn’t sleep much since my nephew was born so I bought him a starshine watchdog for his first b day. He loved it but didn’t know how it worked at first. Now he doesn’t scream and start crying when he wakes up alone. They used the toy to help the kids from Sandy hook. My sister is super duper happy. http://www.amazon.com/shops/starshinewatchdogs

  • What a delightful surprise, Lori! I love what you did with the article. Thank you for your generosity.

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