Parenting Resources

Fears and Phobias in Elementary-Age Children

Children of this age often develop fears related to life circumstances they anticipate might happen to them – illness, natural disasters, kidnappings, shootings, parental divorce or death.  Elementary age children may also develop anxiety concerning their performance at school and extra-curricular events.  

  1. Take the time to discuss fears with your child and do not make assumptions.  If your child is avoiding birthday parties at swimming pools, you should not assume your child is afraid of swimming.  Your child may, for example, be anxious about your ability to provide an appropriate gift at the party.
  2. Relaxation techniques may help children
  3. Practice coping strategies in advance of the situation if possible.  “Let’s practice what you will say when…”
  4. Look for opportunities to explore fears your child may be having.  Children are often more willing to talk about their day as they are lying in bed at night.  Spend some quiet time with them each evening.  One night consider opening a discussion of fears by acknowledging fears you had as a child.  “I used to worry what would happen if my parents were sick or died.  Do you think about that?”   Be ready to answer your child’s questions!   “If I get sick, I know that your aunt will take care of you.”
  5. Avoid overexposure to media, especially when tragedies have occurred.