Fear is defined as the anticipation of pain or distress.
As your child is in the process of figuring out the world around him it is typical for him to react to unpredictable events or environments with childhood fear.
Babies are typically afraid of unfamiliar people, sudden movements, darkness, being left alone or loud noises. Babies express their fear by crying.
Toddlers are less fearful of their surroundings. These children are more likely to run into traffic or jump into a pool because they can't foresee any danger.
But this young child is also developing his imagination which will eventually affect his fears. When your toddler is afraid it is obvious on his face and in his posture. Your toddlers expresses his fear by crying.
Preschool children are often afraid of unrealistic or nearly impossible events. This is typically the time when he is afraid of the monster in the closet or a tiger under the bed.
He is still figuring out the difference between fantasy and reality. He often shows fear with wide eyes and open mouth, but might not cry and he's more likely to run away from what is causing him to be afraid.
Although childhood fear is a natural part of your child's growth and development, it can also be acquired from associations.
If your child is knocked over by a dog he may become fearful of all dogs. As a parent you can also pass on your own fears to your child. If for example you act afraid of insects or thunder in front of your child you are often likely to pass that fear on to him.
Also being an overprotective parent constantly pointing out potential dangers to your child can ultimately communicate to him that the world is a dangerous place. Instilling fear in your child blocks him from learning self-control.
Because preschool children are not quite able to understand logic or figure out the difference between real and make-believe, it's hard to talk your preschool child out of his fears.
But it is important that you not shame or belittle your child, or ignore the fear because it can only make it worse. You can help your preschool child deal with his fears by helping him gradually gain control over his environment. This might mean letting him take a flashlight to bed if he is afraid of the dark.
Watching others, who are not afraid, also can help him build confidence and ease his fears. You can let him spend time with a friendly puppy or watch other people play with dogs in the park if your child is afraid of dogs.
Most fears subside by the time he is 5 or 6. That's because older children have a more mature sense of fantasy and reality and they can better understand explanations for frightening occurrences.
With understanding and support, you can affectively help your child eventually outgrow his childhood fear.
Didn't find what you were looking for? Use this search feature to find it.
Back to Top Page