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Uncommon Fears
 
Authors: Giselle Goetze with Judith A. Myers-Walls, PhD, CFLE

Some normal fears can become a concern. Here are some examples:
     
 Sam is 6 years old and has been in childcare for over three years. He still has trouble saying goodbye to his
        mom when she brings him in the morning.
      • Jenny, who is 4 years old, still is terrified by loud everyday noises. Those noises don’t bother the other children.

These are examples of delays in overcoming fears. These fears are common age-related fears for young children. But now the child is older and doesn’t seem to be outgrowing them. This is unusual and could become a problem.

Another kind of uncommon fear starts because the child knows someone else who is afraid. Maybe a big brother is scared of city buses. The younger child might learn to be afraid of buses. Maybe mom is scared of mice. The children may become afraid of mice too. Sometimes these fears go away over time. Sometimes they are such large fears that the child needs more help to get over them.

Other fears start because of scary experiences the child has had. Being in the hospital or being very sick can be extremely scary for children. As a result, children can become scared of all doctors and nurses. When parents get divorced, some children get scared that the other parent will leave too. Experiences in life, like a tornado or earthquake, often cause a lot of fears. Children who have had scary experiences may need extra help to work through these fears.

Some children have uncommon fears. You may never know how they started. These children are not able to do activities that other children of the same age do - they are too scared. Sometimes this happens even when you and the parents have done all you can to help the child. The best thing you can do to help the child may be to ask for help.

Go to:    Ways to help children cope with their fears
              
  Helping children overcome fears
             Talking with parents about normal age-related fears
             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

Please feel free to link to, print off, redistribute, or reprint
  any of these materials as long as the original credits remain intact.

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