From monsters hiding under the bed to creepy crawlies and wild weather, children can be scared of all sorts of things, real and imagined. While these fears may seem unreasonable to adults, they’re very real to children. Who hasn’t looked under the bed for an imaginary monster that elicits just as much fear as a live animal?
Fears change throughout childhood. Babies might be afraid of loud noises and strangers; toddlers of being on their own or invisible creatures; and school-age children of real things that might happen such as being hurt.
Like anger, fear is a normal emotion and can actually help us to prepare for danger – it makes us alert and ready to take action. But unlike anger, it’s not always easy to tell when children are frightened or worried. They might be embarrassed about sharing their feelings and instead communicate their fear through lack of confidence to do things they happily did before, sleeping difficulties and complaining of tummy aches or headaches.
Kids need adult support to learn to cope with fears and the good news is there’s lots you can do to help:
- Acknowledge how your child is feeling and name it. Saying your child is feeling scared or worried can help them to see it as a normal emotion that can be overcome.
- Tell stories about how you learned to overcome fears when you were their age. Perhaps you mustered the courage to look under the bed for the monster or watch lightning in the sky during a storm.
- Ask what their favourite hero might do in the same situation. Would Spiderman be afraid of monsters under the bed?
You may like to read more about supporting children to cope with fears and worries.