How To Deal With Toddler Phobias

Knowing how to deal with your child's fear effectively could make the difference between it being a one-off thing, or a daily occurrence that begins to take on a more serious affect on their life. What could your little one possibly have to worry about with no money issues, relationship troubles or job stress? Well, things that may not even be noticed by you may have a big impact on a child - they are much more sensitive to sudden sounds, feelings and tastes than we are, and are learning as they go.

We've got some tips on how you can prevent your child from developing serious phobias below.

Don't pay too much attention to it

This may seem a little bit counter intuitive, but try not to pay too much attention to your child's fear, especially when they're much younger. If you make a huge fuss and try to comfort your little one too much when they're feeling afraid of something for no reason, they may start to learn that acting scared gets them attention that they crave. This could encourage them to be afraid of something in exchange for cuddles, and in turn may lead to a more serious phobia that they may struggle to shift.

It is however important to firstly validate their fear by saying something like, "wow that sounds like you were really scared," so that they know that you care and are on their side.

Gradual introduction

Don't go in at the deep in by exposing your little one face first with their phobia. Instead, try gradually introducing them to photos of insects (for example) if that's what makes them squirm, and slowly get them to look at bugs outside, explaining what they're doing, what they eat and how they move around to build an interest. If it's the dark that they're scared of, try using a bedside light and maybe some fairy lights around the room to light up any dark spots that may scare your little one at night. Then, you can move onto something a little smaller like a night light, and take away the bedside light when they're ready, ensuring that they are happy to do so - make sure you involve them in the decision making and make them know that they are being big and strong by doing so!

Plan together

Making a bit of a plan with your child can be a great strategy for overcoming their fears. By having an idea of what they are going to be doing on day one, two, three etc, they can anticipate what's going to happen that week and it reduces any extra fears of the unknown. Make sure to praise them when they have done what you set out to do, and continue to talk through the steps in detail so that they know exactly what is going on every day.

Seek advice

If all else fails, or if your child begins to become overwhelmed by their fear to the point where it begins to affect their day to day life, you should start to look for expert advice. This can be either through the NHS or privately, but it's important at this point that they speak to someone that really knows what they're talking about.