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Talking with Parents About Normal Age-Related Fears
 
Authors: Giselle Goetze with Judith A. Myers-Walls, PhD, CFLE

Parents notice what their children do and often have questions about what they see. Parents may ask you about changes in their child’s behavior. These changes might be because the child is under stress or scared. These changes could be because of age-related fears, or uncommon fears. At times, you might have ideas to help a parent deal with age-related fears. You might also want to talk with them about normal fears for that age group.

When you talk with parents about fears, start by asking questions. Ask what the parents are seeing. How is the child acting? If you think the child might be afraid, talk about that. Tell the parents some ways to recognize fears. You might want to set aside some time to sit down with the parents and talk about the child’s fears.

Parents might ask you questions about their children’s fears. Maybe one child hates going to the doctor. Maybe another child often wakes up from bad dreams. A child might be afraid of the neighbor’s small dog. Many of the fears that parents ask about are normal, age-related fears. Parents also may be worried because one of their children has more fears than the other children.

You can help parents in a variety of ways. One of the things you can do is help them learn that some fears are normal. Help them to understand that children will grow out of many fears. You can also give them ideas about what they could do to help their children along the way.

Some parents are comfortable playing with their children while others may need coaching. Help them learn that play can help children deal with fears. Give them ideas. Explain that they could read books with their children that talk about fears. Explain how they can use a stuffed animal or doll to talk with a child about fears. Give the parents the words to say. An example, you could suggest to parents of young children: “You could say to your child ‘How is Mr. Lion feeling today?’” When you give them good examples, it makes it easier for them to talk about fears with their children. Tell the parents that some children feel safer talking about how the animal or doll is feeling, than they would feel talking about themselves.


Go to  Talking with parents about uncommon fears
            • Books about fears for children






For more information, contact Judith A. Myers-Walls, PhD, CFLE at jmyerswa@purdue.edu

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