Children’s Fears

Children’s fears can be troublesome. But parents can help their kids feel safe and learn how to feel at ease.


Strangers: A baby’s ability to recognize and favor his or her parents over strangers is heightened by the age of 6-8 months. Good news: As your youngster becomes more mobile, he’ll be less likely to wander too far if he’s afraid of strangers. By the time they’re 2 years old, most toddlers have outgrown this stage, although they’ll still be prone to clinginess when they’re around new people.

As babies don’t yet have a fully developed sense of hearing, they are easily startled by loud noises and wails. Thunder, automobile alarms, and flushing public toilets are among the most common culprits. As a result of their body’s reaction to the loudness, even toddlers may find it physically distressing. 

Toddlers learn to associate negative feelings (e.g., “Too loud!”) after a few scares. Even before entering the din of a restaurant or the reverberating stalls of a public lavatory, people develop an association.

What You Can Do To Help

The word “comfort” is the key. The only thing a baby or toddler needs to know is that you’re there to keep him safe while he’s still building a strong bond with you. 

The greatest method of soothing your child is to either lift him or lower yourself to his level, and then hug him or pat him or sway with him while saying “It’s all right. Mommy’s here.” In some situations, warning your child in advance of an upcoming “frightening” event, as when you’re going to flush a particularly noisy toilet in a public lavatory, can be helpful.

Also, refrain from getting too caught up in your own feelings about it all. A 2-year-old may not be your idea of a “great” Halloween with your family, but if he sees that you’re frustrated, it will only amplify his negative feelings. By remaining composed, you can prevent the situation from spiraling out of control and escalating the kids’ anxiety even further.

Seven or more years old

Tragedies. Your child’s global consciousness is expanding at a quick pace, because of her increased exposure to information like weather reports and news articles, as well as the horrific historical events she is learning about at school. When it comes to storms, automobile accidents, or terrorist events, a child this young don’t have a strong sense of context.

If it seems like your child is thinking a lot about death and illness lately, that’s because it often is. Children begin to inquire about death more seriously around the age of seven. In addition to their exceptional cognitive abilities, they may have also lost a family pet or a great-grandparent in the past. Because they’ve grown out of the “parents are gods” phase, they’ve also come to accept that you, too, are a mortal being.

Creepy Stuff: Children’s fears usually consist of scary stuff. Even if your child is mature and intelligent, she still has a vivid imagination that might be piqued by scary characters like spiders, witches, and ghosts. Children’s imaginations fill in the blanks of a closed closet door or the shadowy recesses beneath the mattress. 

It isn’t a weird or strange fear, she says, but one that is grounded in reality: There are some animals that may hurt them, and big kids know that, and they’re aware of it. Taking control of their fears begins with understanding the differences.

What You Can Do To Help

Come up with a list of facts. Spend a few minutes teaching your child about storms if he or she worries about poor weather. After that, you can work with her to create a list that includes both her general anxieties and what you’ve learned. Hurricanes may be infrequent in your area, or if they do strike, warnings will be issued well in advance so that residents may prepare and be safe.

If you’re going to lie, don’t go full-on. Your child is well aware that bad things happen in the world. Though it’s understandable that you’d want to keep her safe, telling her anything isn’t true could cause her to distrust you in the future. If something horrible happens, remind her that there are always others like firefighters, police officers, or members of the Red Cross who can step in to assist others.

Helpful related articles: Help Your Child Overcome Their Biggest Fears, Helping Your Preschooler Manage Emotions and Preventing Anxiety Disorder OutburstsHow to Teach a Willful Adolescent to Be More Independent While Maintaining Your Cool