How to Avoid Transmitting Your Fears to Your Children

In an attempt to provide protection, you may transmit your fears to your children and generate emotional and psychological burdens.
How to Avoid Transmitting Your Fears to Your Children
Sharon Capeluto

Written and verified by the psychologist Sharon Capeluto.

Last update: 14 June, 2023

Have you ever asked yourself if you’re transmitting your fears to your children? Often, children acquire fears that aren’t entirely their own.

For example, every time you meet a dog while you’re out on a walk, you cross the street. Your child wants to come close to pet it, but you shout at them, “Don’t touch it, it’ll bite you! “. Similar situations are repeated two, three, or four times and your child no longer wants to have anything to do with the dogs. Now, they prefer to keep them as far away as possible because they’re scared of getting hurt.

The good news is that it’s possible to turn things around and thus prevent your little ones from absorbing our fears.

Fears that travel from generation to generation

Transmitting fears to children is something that happens often, although we usually do it unconsciously. The same happens with beliefs, unresolved emotional wounds, or trauma. However, this doesn’t mean that people are predestined to repeat the patterns of their ancestors. Bringing these issues to consciousness and having the will to work on them helps to break the cycle and create new ways of relating to the world.

But keep in mind that a child can’t do this on their own, as they don’t yet have sufficient resources to face a challenge of such complexity. If they want to, they’ll do so as an adult. However, it’s better to avoid the problem than to have to solve it later. Therefore, it’s important to be careful with your messages if you want to avoid transmitting your fears to your children.

A mother who's scared her daughter will fall down the stairs.
Transmitting our fears has negative consequences on the emotional and psychological development of our children.

Recommendations to avoid transmitting your fears to your child

We all have fears… Spiders, heights, going to the dentist, loneliness, rejection, or failure, among others. As you can see, some fears are tangible and others are rather abstract. Whatever the case, people can be more or less aware of their fears. In this regard, we have to know that non-conscious fears are the most susceptible to being transferred to other people.

Below, we share with you the main strategies to prevent your children from taking on your fears.

Identify your fears

Identifying your own fears is essential to avoid spreading them to others. Taking charge of them makes their transmission less likely. In this regard, you can recognize them through introspection. To do this, ask yourself deep questions and take an active attitude toward what’s happening around you.

It’s true that becoming aware of what scares you can be a deep and complex process. To achieve this, you can follow these guidelines:

  • Pay attention to your emotions: Often, fear manifests itself through feelings of nervousness, anxiety, and insecurity.
  • Observe your thoughts: Thoughts that arise in challenging or stressful situations may indicate underlying fears.
  • Make a list of your fears: Take a moment to consciously think about the objects, scenarios, or ideas that make you fearful.

Face your fears

Once you’ve accepted your fears, allow yourself to inquire into their origin. Understanding the nature of your fears and how they affect you will help you deal with them more effectively. To prevent your children from inheriting your fears, it’s essential to work on them. If you consider it necessary, you can ask for professional help to solve certain phobias.

Also, if your children notice that you face difficult situations with courage, they’re likely to follow your example. Remember that you’re their main role model. Contrary to what many believe, being vulnerable in front of your children is a good thing.

It’s essential to naturalize fears and understand their human nature. We don’t have to hide them, but rather, we should make children see the importance of facing them.

Watch your words and actions

It’s true that in this world, almost everything represents a potential danger. The simple act of existing constantly exposes us to risk. Therefore, it’s understandable that we react unconsciously or impulsively when we believe our children are on the brink of danger.

That’s when we solve their problems for them or try to avoid harm abruptly and exorbitantly, saying things like “Get down from there, it’s too dangerous!” A healthier alternative is to encourage their independence, equip them with coping strategies, and try to remain calm in the face of a situation that could be harmful to them.

You and your child are different people

Ultimately, it’s about understanding that your fears are yours and shouldn’t limit your child’s life. It’s true that these fears can help you take precautions to protect your child, but it’s essential that you base yourself on objective facts and that you take a calm and flexible stance.

For example, the fact that you’re terrified of animals shouldn’t prevent your child from visiting nature reserves and parks. In such a case, you can choose not to accompany your child on these outings and allow them to go with another adult they trust. You can also talk to your child about the care that should be taken. In other words, it’s okay if you’re afraid of animals, but this shouldn’t become a prohibition for your child.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Paniagua, M. A. T., & Mendoza, N. P. V. (2011). La transmisión transgeneracional del psiquismo. Uaricha, Revista de Psicología, 8(16), 45-52.
  • Rodríguez Ascate, J. (2019). Consecuencias de la sobreprotección en los niños de preescolar.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.