Behavior

Understanding and Responding to Fear

At this age, your child:

  • Is fascinated by the world of pretend and imagination
  • Doesn’t fully understand the difference between fantasy and reality
  • Might become especially fearful during changes/transitions
  • Can seem especially fearful depending on their temperament (for example, high withdrawal, high sensitivity, low adaptability)

 

Suggestions for Supporting Your Child in Overcoming (developmental/innocent) Fears:

  • Try not to tease (even in good humor), no matter how silly the fear might seem to you. For example, a fear of shadows.
  • Don’t argue about it. Trying to convince your child out of it can prolong the fear and destroy trust.
  • Control your negative reaction the fear. For example, frustration or anger.
  • Empathize with your child. Recognizing that something causes your child fear shows empathy and understanding, and opens the door to problem solving solutions.
  • Brainstorm (ideally with your child) strategies for handling the fear. For example, putting a beloved stuffed animal under the bed to guard against monsters, using a night light, or having pretend monster repellent spray.
  • Share stories of other children with similar fears that demonstrate ways of gaining courage or overcoming fears. You can do this through books or stories from your own experiences.
  • Allow your child to feel in control of fearful situations. For example, if your child agrees to put their toe in the swimming pool, they can trust you won’t push them in further.
  • Be sensitive and patient.
  • Create/provide safe experiences for your child to take small steps in overcoming their fear. In doing so, you allow your child the opportunity to enjoy activities they once were scared of in their own time (for example, dogs or swimming).
Content created in partnership with
Seedlings Group