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Childhood fears: What are they and how to respond

Childhood fears

Fear is something natural, an emotional state that activates warning signs. Learn about the most common childhood fears in this article.

Your baby’s development is not only reflected in physical or linguistic areas with milestones such as running or saying their first words, but little by little you will also notice changes in the emotional sphere.

Your little one begins to experience different feelings from the moment they’re born. This process begins with simple emotions, for example, interest or distress; and progresses to more complex emotions such as joy, sadness, and fear.

If you have wondered why childhood fears arise and what you can do to help your little one overcome them, do not stop reading! In this article, we will talk about that.

Most common childhood fears and how to help your little one 

It is important to mention that it is normal for your child to develop some fears as they grow up. Keep in mind that everything around your little one is new to them and little by little, through their senses, they will get to know the world and become familiar with what they see, hear, and feel.

There are some ways to support your little one in overcoming their childhood fears. We will talk about them below.

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  • Talk to your child and encourage them to express what they feel. It’s important to let them know that all children have different fears and that they have your support to overcome anything that makes them afraid. Also, let your child know you are there to keep them safe.
  • Try to show empathy towards your little one and show interest in their emotions. Avoid minimizing their fears and accompany them so that they can gradually confront their insecurities. If your child is afraid of spiders or ghosts, you can play together and pretend you are one of these. This way, you will show your kid that there is nothing to be afraid of and that they can laugh and play with it. By participating in a game that is completely under their control, your child may begin to overcome their fear little by little.
  • Be patient. Overcoming a fear takes time and it is important that you allow your child to deal with their emotions one step at a time.
  • Talk to your little one about how you make sure they are safe. For example, if your child feels anxious when they see a dog nearby, explain that you are there to protect them and that the owner put a leash on the dog so that it doesn’t move around a lot.

Now that we have given you some general tips to support your little one, we will explain different ways to help and reassure your child according to more specific childhood fears.

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Fear of the dark

As your child grows, their imagination develops a little every day. In fact, around 31 months, your child may begin to engage in symbolic play. This means that they base their actions on situations or objects that are not present, for example, when they pretend that they have a baby or that they are doctors or firefighters.

Exploring circumstances that are not real gives your child the opportunity to develop language, social, cognitive, and emotional skills. However, it can also cause them to fear “monsters in the closet” or “ghosts under the bed” when you turn off the lights and put them to bed.


Given this, you can give your little one a small lamp to turn on whenever they are afraid or you can also place a night light in their room. It is also recommended to supervise what your child watches on television since they can be exposed to images that may not be appropriate for their age and, if they remember them at bedtime, could make them afraid.

Fear of going to the doctor

It is common for children to be afraid to go to a doctor’s appointment. There are some recommendations that can help make visits to the pediatrician much easier for your child.

One way to prepare your little one for their doctor’s appointment is to talk to them a few hours before you go. It is very important that you encourage them to talk about what they are afraid of and that you explain to them that they have nothing to fear. Also, remember that it is best to be honest with your child. If the doctor will do something that might hurt, it is best to say it beforehand.

It also helps if you make a plan together about what to do if they are afraid. They may choose, for example, to bring their favorite stuffed animal or a book to the doctor’s office.

In addition to this, before starting the check-up, try to tell the doctor about your child’s fears. This way, they can take some measures, such as explaining to your child what they’re going to do, even before starting. This will allow your little one to feel more in control and therefore more comfortable.

Lastly, you can lean on books to help your little one overcome their fear. Look for some age-appropriate book options or stories that talk about doctor visits.

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Fear of people in disguise

Another fear that is common in children is being in contact with people who wear masks or costumes. If this is the case with your little one, don’t worry! There are also ways to help them overcome this childhood fear.

You can try encouraging your child to play with you using some costumes. Of course, choose costumes of their favorite characters or of animals or people with whom they are familiar. On the contrary, avoid scary costumes.

Good! So far we have talked about childhood fears and how to help your little one overcome certain fears of their daily life.

Finally, remember that it is important that your child always feels accompanied and listened to. It is also recommended that you congratulate them when they manage to overcome their fear.

If you want to find more tips and activities on how to boost your little one’s development, download our free app here. There, you will find thousands of personalized activities to encourage your baby’s growth and learning.

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