UK's Natural Therapies Website
e.g. yoga, naturopath
e.g. Town name or city

Visit us on Facebook

Hitwise Award Winner


eg. Town Name Or City Name

Toddler Fears


Toddlers are classed between one and three years old. This is a time characterised by rapid growth and discovery.  These are the years before school when a child is working out where they fit in the world.  This is also when children learn they are independent entities - an often challenging time for parents!  Toddlers will often have a range of common fears that they will outgrow as they continue to develop and move into preschool.  This is because they are more aware of different people and the world at large.  Most of these fears are programmed in for a good reason: we do need to guard against certain dangers.  Fear and anxiety are a normal part of developing and maturing, and a healthy signal for children to learn if something is safe or dangerous in their environment.  Parents do however need to pay attention if a fear gets out of hand.

Common fears

Primary fears are the most familiar. These are innate and include the dark, scary animals and pain. These fears come from feeling out of control.  Others common fears include:

  • Hurtful experiences -  such as a trip to the doctor
  • New experiences - anything that deviates from their normal routine
  • Getting hurt - toddlers do not yet know that a bruise or bump will go away in time
  • Separation anxiety - you're the most important person in your child's life. Your toddler knows that when you are  around they are safe and secure
  • Dogs - dogs appear very large, unpredictable creatures to a toddler
  • Your fears - toddlers will pick up on any of your fears by watching your behaviour

What to do?

You can encourage your toddler to be more independent by doing the following:

  • Expect some 'fear' behaviour; it is a normal part of your toddlers development
  • Provide comfort and reassurance
  • Be encouraging, this will send positive signals to your toddler
  • Give lots of love and attention
  • Use distraction and diversion to change your toddlers train of thought
  • Avoid orders and ultimatums - lead and teach rather than getting into power struggles.
  • Go along with it as far as is reasonable.
  • Keep separations short at first
  • Allow the child to gradually approach any feared object
  • Provide advanced preparation for potentially scary things
  • Be supportive of their efforts
  • Move at an appropriate pace for the child
  • It is really important that your toddler learns to trust you
  • Praise your child with positive feedback for overcoming a fear
  • Be patient when your child is afraid
  • Encourage mastery of a fear by making a game out of it

The most practical and productive parenting advice is to provide experiences that prepare your child for their future. This should focus on aiding the child to deal with the ups and downs of growing up by developing the confidence and skills to face and overcome any obstacles.

If a fear is totally illogical and is not remedied by normal calming techniques, consulting a professional may be appropriate. There may be emotional, neurological or biochemical reactions that are preventing the child from handling the fear appropriately.


  Printer Friendly Version

Related Modalities