Calming Childhood Fears

By Early Years Authors
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Olha Ukhal/Fotolia
When your child is frightened, he will look to you for emotional cues. Consider how other parents have worked with their children regarding childhood fears.


When frightened, your child will turn to you for help or comfort. Sometimes kids will even take their cue from you about how to react. Here are tips from an expert and a parent about how to help kids overcome their childhood fears:  

Childhood Fears

Whether they’re afraid of bugs, automatic car washes, thunderstorms or dark places, children have fears. Most are transient, while others hang on awhile and require extra thought, time and patience to resolve. Sometimes the fear becomes problematic for the whole family. For example, a toddler’s panic about flying insects can make watching your oldest daughter’s soccer game a real adventure. So how can you deal with frights in a gracious way that helps your child and reduces your frustration?

Talk. A child may not be able to tell you much except, “Bug get me” or “Boom hurt ears.” But even that much information is better than uncontrolled shrieking linked to an unknown cause. Plus, the fact that you care enough to listen and ask questions usually has a calming effect.

Read together. Learn how the rain that accompanies thunderstorms helps grass grow and flowers bloom. With bugs, your child may have a genuine reason to be scared. Read about the bug and the purpose God gave it to remove concerns that the insect’s only mission is to hurt your child.

Check yourself. Children frequently take their “fear” cues from things that scare adults. Have they seen you jump through your skin during a storm? Do you react with panic around strange dogs? You may have to face your fears and work through anxieties to help your kids battle theirs.

Take small steps. Visit with a friend’s dog that is friendly and easygoing. Watch it play with other children and then allow your children to approach the animal. Be sure to stay close by throughout the process.

Play. Share about things that scare you and how praying helps. Then talk to God together about the scary dreams, shadows on the wall or your neighbor’s pooch.

Fearful Toddlers

The first time my daughter Eva saw a horse, she started crying and shouting, “No, no, no!” Expressing fear toward unusual sounds or objects is not uncommon for toddlers, especially if they are naturally sensitive or anxious.

As parents, our instinct is to protect our children from harm and comfort them when they are afraid. We should be careful not to coddle them, however. Swooping in like a mother hen to protect our children from every real or imagined threat will only serve to reinforce their anxiety.

When your child is frightened, he will look to you for emotional cues. Resist urges to either rush to his rescue or dismiss his concerns. Instead, calmly and firmly reassure him that he is safe and everything will be OK. In addition, praise him when he makes even small attempts to face his fears.

Dealing with fear is a wonderful opportunity to teach your child to turn to God when he is afraid. Remind him that even though scary things do happen in life, God promises He will always be with us (Psalm 118:6). 

—Dr. Bill Maier

Fear of the Dark

Once the sun went down, my 3-year-old would panic if he had to go to another room without me.

To help him, I would say, “You are so brave. I will talk to you the whole time.”

With that assurance, he’d leave the room yelling, “Mommy?”

I would answer, “Yes, I’m right here.” We did this until he returned. At first, we communicated the whole time, but after a few months, it would just be once or twice. Eventually, my son was able to venture through the house after dark without panicking.

—Emily Downs

“Calming Childhood Fears,” the compiled article, is copyright © 2016 by Focus on the Family. “Childhood Fears” is copyrighted © 2006 by Clem Boyd. “Fearful Toddlers” iscopyright © 2013 by Dr. Bill Maier. “Fear of the Dark” is copyright © 2015 by Emily Downs. Used by permission.  

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Early Years Authors

Articles by “Family Stages: Early Years” are shorter articles that have been compiled by the Focus on the Family Thriving Family editors on a single topic.

You May Also Like

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.


If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.