5 common fears toddlers have and how to deal with them

Toddlers are starting to understand the concept of fear and becoming aware of dangers. Here are some tips to help you deal with 6 common toddler fears.

  1. Fear of the dark and monsters


Your toddler is at a stage in their development when they can’t yet separate reality from fantasy. In a dark room, their imaginations run wild and they start to conjure up new and scary things to be afraid of.


Ways to deal with it:


  • Acknowledge the fear and calmly explain the difference between what’s real and what’s pretend
  • Telling stories about other children who are afraid of the dark and overcame it, can be soothing and encourage the same behaviour
  • Compromise and get a nightlight or leave the door ajar


  1. Having bad dreams


Occasional bad dreams are normal in toddlers and are often linked to events that happened during the day or something that’s worrying them.


Try not to encourage bad sleeping habits. Inviting them into your bed may be a short term fix but it can quickly become a regular thing.


Ways to deal with it:


  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Read soothing bedtime stories about sleeping and dreaming
  • Assure your toddler that dreams are not real
  • Give plenty of hugs


  1. Separation anxiety and fear of strangers


Kids start to worry about becoming separated from around 10 months and it’s completely normal.


Coping with separation is one thing your toddler will have to learn to manage and the approach may change depending on your toddler.


Ways to deal with it:


  • A comfort object can offer your anxious toddler familiarity and reassurance, especially when you come to leave
  • Make sure they know you’ll be leaving and tell them when you’re coming back
  • Set a transition period. Half an hour with the babysitter before you go out gives your toddler time to get used to the situation
  1. Fear of going to the doctor or dentist


Your toddler is developing their memory and it’s not surprising they often have a fear of going to the doctors or dentists with recollections of having injections or being prodded by a stranger.


Ways to deal with it:


  • Don’t promise it won’t hurt. It might, and cause your toddler not to trust you
  • Practice through pretend play.Role-playing with a toy doctor’s kit will put a positive spin on your next visit
  • Offer a treat for after the visit, regardless of whether they behave or not. This is a great way to encourage positive memories associated to visiting the doctor or dentist


  1. Being afraid of water


Water can cause small children to panic and feel out of control as they’re becoming aware of their environment and potential dangers.


Ways to deal with it:


  • Encourage water play. Even just a bowl of water with some toys will give your toddler a positive association
  • Add toys to the bathtub and make sure you focus on fun bath times
  • Go to a parent-child swim class designed to help kids become more comfortable with water
  • Encourage a fear of missing out by sitting by the side of the pool and watching others play in the water

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