How to Handle Common Childhood Fears

Scared daughter holding mother's hands in autumn park. Halloween is nearly here. This is one of the most entertaining times of the year for many children, since they get to dress up and go trick-or-treating. However, for some the holiday can be scary, since there will be people dressed up like werewolves, vampires, ghosts and other frightening beings wandering around.

For parents and caregivers, it’s important to know how to approach common childhood fears if your kids get frightened on Halloween night or at any other point in the year. Here’s some useful information about what typically scares children and how the adults in their lives can help them face their fears.

Common Childhood Fears: What Keeps Kids Up at Night

Getting scared by some things is a normal part of childhood, according to the Child Mind Institute. Here are some fears that children often experience at certain ages, according to KidsHealth.

8 to 9 months old: New faces/strangers.

10 months and 2 years old: Separation from parents/caregivers.

4 to 6 years old: Nightmares, loud noises (e.g., thunderstorms), and monsters in the closet or under the bed.

7 or older: Schoolwork, natural disasters, and the death or injury of a loved one.

It can be difficult to see your child struggling with fear. Luckily, there are steps you can take to help them cope with and overcome feeling scared.

How to Help Your Child Face Their Fears

With the right approach, you can succeed in helping a scared child calm down and face the source of their fear. Keep these steps in mind.

1. Validate their feelings first. Before you start solving the problem, it’s important to let your child know you understand why they’re scared, according to the U.S. News & World Report article “How to Help Your Child Deal With Fears.” Encourage them to discuss what frightens them with you and say something affirming like, “That does sound scary.”

2. Develop a plan and set goals for facing the fear. Talk through the plan with your child and divide it into manageable steps, the Child Mind Institute Advises. For example, to tackle a fear of dogs, the first step might be standing in the yard with a dog on a leash kept some distance away. The end goal could be petting the dog, after days or weeks of having the child get used to being gradually closer to the animal.

3. Be patient and supportive. Remember that overcoming your fears isn’t easy, especially for children who aren’t used to dealing with all of the potentially scary things in the world yet. Offer plenty of encouraging words when they make progress.

Signs of Excessive Fear in Children

In some cases, kids experience fear beyond what’s normal. If your child suffers from fright that seems extreme and interferes in their day-to-day life, they might have an anxiety disorder, according to KidsHealth.

Contact your child’s pediatrician if fears have the following effects:

  • Regularly causing tantrums
  • Stopping your child from going to school, being away from you, sleeping along, and other routine parts of life.
  • Leading to physical symptoms like dizziness, stomachaches and a racing heart

If you have any questions about children’s health and well-being, feel free to reach out to our team of pediatric professionals. The pediatric therapists at Little Steps deliver compassionate care to help children of all ages one step at a time. You can reach us by calling 847-707-6744 or emailing

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