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Health Information For Parents
It’s normal for children to feel afraid at times. Fear is an emotion that can help kids be cautious. Things that are new, big, loud, or different can seem scary at first. Parents can help kids feel safe and learn to feel at ease.
What kids feel afraid of changes as they grow. Some fears are common and normal at certain ages.
Infants feel stranger anxiety. When babies are about 8–9 months old, they can recognize the faces of people they know. That’s why new faces can seem scary to them — even a new babysitter or relative. They may cry or cling to a parent to feel safe.
Toddlers feel separation anxiety. At some time between 10 months and 2 years, many toddlers start to fear being apart from a parent. They don’t want a parent to leave them at daycare, or at bedtime. They may cry, cling, and try to stay near their parent.
Young kids fear “pretend” things. Kids ages 4 through 6 can imagine and pretend. But they can’t always tell what’s real and what’s not. To them, the scary monsters they imagine seem real. They fear what might be under their bed or in the closet. Many are afraid of the dark and at bedtime. Some are afraid of scary dreams. Young kids may also be afraid of loud noises, like thunder or fireworks.
Older kids fear real-life dangers. When kids are 7 or older, monsters under the bed can’t scare them (much) because they know they’re not real. At this age, some kids begin to fear things that could happen in real life. They may have a fear that a “bad guy” is in the house. They may feel afraid about natural disasters they hear about. They may fear getting hurt or that a loved one could die. Schoolage kids may also feel anxious about schoolwork, grades, or fitting in with friends.
Preteens and teens may have social fears. They might feel anxious about how they look or whether they will fit in. They may feel anxious or afraid before they give a report in class, start a new school, take a big exam, or play in a big game.
When your child is afraid, you can help by doing these things:
Most kids cope with normal fears with gentle support from their parent. As they grow, they get over fears they had at a younger age.
Some kids have a harder time, and need more help with fears. If fears are extreme or keep a child from doing normal things, it might be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
Talk to your doctor if your child’s fears:
Everyone feels anxiety, fear, or worry at some time – it’s normal to worry about school, your friends, your appearance, and tons of other stuff. But for teens with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), these feelings are taken to extremes.
All kids have worries and doubts. But some have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in which their worries compel them to behave in certain ways over and over again. OCD can get better with the right attention and care.
When life throws problems your way, learn how to stay calm, de-stress, and solve problems.
It’s natural to feel self-conscious, nervous, or shy sometimes. But for some people, the anxiety that goes with feeling shy or self-conscious can be extreme, and it can take over their lives. Get the facts on social phobia here.
Someone might say you’re obsessed with soccer or something else that you really like, but when someone has a true obsession, it isn’t any fun. Find out more about obsessive-compulsive disorder in this article for kids.
We all get worried or nervous about things. Here are 5 ways to control anxiety.
A phobia is strong fear of something. Find out more in this article for kids.
Negative emotions are impossible to avoid and everyone feels them from time to time. They may be difficult, but they don’t have to be stressful. Find out how to deal with stressful feelings.
All kids feel scared once in a while. Find out what frightens them in this article for kids.
Anxiety is a natural part of life, and most of us experience it from time to time. But for some people, anxiety can be extreme.
Fear is a normal human reaction that protects us by signaling danger and preparing us to deal with it. Get the facts about fears and phobias and what causes them.
Getting help with emotions or stress is the same as getting help with a medical problem like asthma or diabetes. This article explains how therapy works and how it can help with problems.
Visit our stress and coping center for advice on how to handle stress, including different stressful situations.
All kids to worry at times, and some may worry more than others. But parents can help kids manage worry and tackle everyday problems with ease. Find out how.
If you need mental health care but don’t think you can afford it, you’re not alone. Get tips on finding low-cost or free mental health care in this article for teens.
Anxiety is a normal part of growing up, and all kids experience it. But when it becomes extreme, it can interfere with a child’s overall happiness.
Being a kid doesn’t always mean being carefree – even the youngest tots worry. Find out what stresses kids out and how to help them cope.
Noticing your feelings and saying how you feel can help you feel better. This article for kids has ideas on how to practice talking about feelings and emotions.
Stressed out about speaking or performing in front of people? These tips can help you cope.
Everyone feels a little nervous and stressed before a test. And a touch of nervous anticipation can actually help keep you at peak performance. But for some people, this normal anxiety is more intense.
What’s it like to go to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist? Find out in this article for kids.
If you’ve been cutting and you want to stop, here are some approaches that might help you.
Teary and tantrum-filled goodbyes are common with separation anxiety, which is a perfectly normal part of childhood development.
Some people get nervous and worried when they take tests, even if they studied. If that’s you, read this article to find out how to stay cool at school when it’s time to take a test.
Have you ever been afraid? Everyone gets scared sometimes. Find out more about fear in this article for kids.
Stress happens when you are worried or uncomfortable about something. You may feel angry, frustrated, scared, or afraid. Our article for kids will help you manage stress.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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