Focus on the Family

Childhood Fears

by Colleen Shemeley

Just as your children grow and change, so do their fears. Monsters under the bed, thunderstorms or loud noises probably no longer cause your child to need your reassuring words and hugs. Fourth and fifth graders' most common anxieties are being kidnapped, parents divorcing, someone dying, fires, burglars, school failure and being a social outcast.

Psychologists have discovered that distinguishing between fear and anxiety is often difficult in children. Fear is a response to a situation (a neighbor's dog), while anxiety is being worried about something that hasn't happened yet (a shot at the doctor's office). Once parents realize this difference, they can better help their child cope.

If your child's anxiety repeatedly interrupts her daily life, consider consulting a counselor, pediatrician or pastor for advice on minimizing these heart-pounding fears.