Irrational Childhood Fears: What You Need to Know

December 13, 2018
Irrational childhood fears are a common thing. Fortunately, there are a few formulas to help little ones overcome this problem.

Irrational childhood fears are common in many kids. Unfortunately, this can be a source of frustration for parents, as it often seems like nothing they say or do seems to help.

Kids can have irrational fears about monsters under the bed, the dark, or even everyday sounds. Keep in mind that these fears are common in childhood. The parents’ role is to convey a sense of calm and support for their little ones.

Meanwhile, it’s important to know that the goal isn’t to do away with anxiety completely. Rather, it’s to help them learn to manage their irrational childhood fears so they have less of an impact.

Helping them control their fear is the most important thing. It can be achieved if you simply follow a few steps.

A study suggests that parents must identify their children’s fears and recognize that, to the child, they are real. It’s important to remain calm, show empathy, and above all, never force kids into scary situations. Read this article to learn more.

How to overcome irrational childhood fears

1. Respect their opinions

The first piece of advice when it comes to helping your child overcome irrational fears is to respect his or her opinion. Although the fears may seem unfounded, the child has reasons for experiencing this emotion. As a parent, you must listen and respect his or her feelings.

All children have the right to express their fears. These shouldn’t be diminished or dismissed, nor should you force your child to show excessive courage. You need to understand your children, and use respectful advice to help them feel more and more secure.

Fearful child

2. Give them all the information they need

While it may seem obvious, it’s sometimes necessary to give kids all the information they need. Children are still discovering how the world works, and the elements that surround them. It’s a stage during which they’re still finding their way in terms of cause and effect.

The more information you give your children, the more they’ll know about the world around them, and the less they’ll worry.

If, for example, they’re afraid of storms, tell them about where thunder and lightning come from. Don’t forget that this knowledge will help them feel calmer and more secure.

3. Control their media consumption

Thirdly, consider that images from movies, video games, music videos, and even TV news can have a negative impact and worsen irrational childhood fears. To this end, we recommend keeping an eye on your child’s consumption of media content.

You can even teach your child to use the remote control and turn off the TV when anxiety-producing images appear. As a parent, you need to teach how to consume age-appropriate content responsibly.

“It’s important to remain calm, show empathy, and above all, never force kids into scary situations.”

4. Project confidence

One of the ways your child can overcome irrational fears is for you to show that you’re not afraid. Simply telling him or her not to be afraid can make certain situations even worse.

However, if your little one can feel your confidence, he or she will start to believe there’s nothing to fear. It’s a great way of giving your child the courage he or she needs to overcoming any irrational fears.

5. Read them books that deal with fears

Our final suggestion is to read children books that show scary situations to help them overcome their fears. It’s a useful strategy that allows kids to identify with a character who shares their anxiety.

Child reading a book

This shows children that there are other people who feel the same way, which will allow them to be more open regarding their fears. Putting fear into words helps assuage the child’s concern.

Finally, don’t forget that all kids need help in overcoming irrational childhood fears. It’s an age of discovery, which is why you need to respect their anxieties.

While they may not overcome their fear immediately, they will learn to handle it better. Don’t hesitate to use this advice to help your child.

  • Askew, C., & Field, A. P. (2007). Vicarious learning and the development of fears in childhood. Behaviour Research and Therapy. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2007.06.008
  • Muris, P., Merckelbach, H., & Collaris, R. (1997). Common childhood fears and their origins. Behaviour Research and Therapy35(10), 929–937. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0005-7967(97)00050-8
  • King, N. J., Muris, P., Ollendick, T. H., & Gullone, E. (2005). Childhood fears and phobias: Advances in assessment and treatment. Behaviour Change22(4), 199–211. https://doi.org/10.1375/bech.22.4.199