Alphabetic Guide to Child Care - Fears and phobias

Fears and Phobias

Babies are fearful about being dropped, and they're frightened by a sudden loud noise. (You can make babies cry by saying, “Boo!” When they get older and catch on, they'll think it's fun to be scared.) Toddlers are taught to be afraid of a hot stove, and as children get a little older, they develop night fears that become bad dreams. Many parents transmit, deliberately or unknowingly, some of their fears to their children: fear of dogs, or thunder and lightning, or infection by germs.

Only a thin line separates sensible caution from anxiety. Where a threat of punishment is involved, an anxiety may develop that can last a lifetime. Parents should control the impulse to say such things as, “Don't eat that, it's going to make you sick” or “Don't climb so high, you're going to fall” or “Don't play in the mud; the germs will make you sick.” Or, worse yet, “If you do that, the bogey man will get you” or “God will punish you.”

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