Taming Toddler Fears
Living and Loving|June 2018

Your child seems fearless one day and is afraid of just about everything the next. Here’s why, plus tips to ease the fear.

Nikki Temkin

Toddler fears are a normal developmental phase. In fact, anxiety is a natural condition that assists humans in coping with new experiences and protects us from danger. “Fears are part of how kids learn to understand and manage their environment,” explains educational psychologist Ashley Jay.

There are evolutionary reasons for the feeling of fear in children, because those born in the prehistoric era were more likely to survive if they were terrified of big animals, deep water or snakes. Some fears arise from first-hand experiences, but witnessing an event can also provoke fear. For example, developing a fear of lifts after seeing someone trapped in one.

Toddler fears can include anything that overloads their senses. Sudden loud noises, the vacuum cleaner, a hair dryer, sirens, the bath draining, sudden movements and being put down too quickly are often anxiety inducing scenarios for little ones. Confusing contraptions like drains and fans, the dark, monsters, insects, weather, nightmares, strangers, separations from caregivers, being alone, masks, toilets and doctors are also common culprits.

“When babies are born, their nervous systems are still developing, so when there is too much information coming to them through their senses, it’s too much for their nervous systems to handle, which will lead to a fear reaction,” explains Ashley.

Sudden onset fears

At around 18 months old, toddlers begin to struggle to distinguish between reality and make-believe. “Fear is what happens in the gap between being exposed to something new and understanding how it works. Your child is not scared because of the situation itself, but because of the big, scary looming picture worry has created in his mind, the misinformation his first responder, the protector brain, is providing for him,” writes American psychologist Dr Tamar Chansky on her blog worrywisekids.org.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

RELATED STORIES

‘AS SEEN ON TIKTOK' IS THE NEW ‘AS SEEN ON TV'

Near the Twizzlers and Sour Patch Kids at a New York candy store are fruit-shaped soft jelly candies that earned a spot on the shelves because they went viral on TikTok.

5 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

WHO HONORS HENRIETTA LACKS, WOMAN WHOSE CELLS SERVED SCIENCE

The chief of the World Health Organization honored the late Henrietta Lacks, an American woman whose cancer cells were taken without her knowledge during the 1950s and ended up providing the foundation for vast scientific breakthroughs, including research about the coronavirus.

2 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

WITH HUMOR, VENOM 2 LEANS INTO RELATIONSHIPS

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is best when it’s not trying to be a comic book movie.

3 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

INSTACART CEO SAYS ONLINE GROCERY SHOPPING HAS ROOM TO GROW

When the pandemic hit the U.S. last year, grocery delivery company Instacart suddenly became a lifeline for millions of consumers. Sales volumes skyrocketed; in one month, the company added 300,000 drivers to keep up with its orders.

4 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

HYDROPOWER DECLINE ADDS STRAIN TO POWER GRIDS IN DROUGHT

After water levels at a California dam fell to historic lows this summer, the main hydropower plant it feeds was shut down. At the Hoover Dam in Nevada — one of the country’s biggest hydropower generators — production is down by 25%. If extreme drought persists, federal officials say a dam in Arizona could stop producing electricity in coming years.

3 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

MICROSOFT SHUTTING DOWN LINKEDIN IN CHINA

Microsoft is shutting down its LinkedIn service in China later this year after internet rules were tightened by Beijing, the latest American tech giant to lessen its ties to the country.

1 min read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

WILLIAM SHATNER, TV'S CAPT. KIRK, BLASTS INTO SPACE

Hollywood’s Captain Kirk, 90-year-old William Shatner, blasted into space Wednesday in a convergence of science fiction and science reality, reaching the final frontier aboard a ship built by JeffBezos’ Blue Origin company.

3 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

US REGULATORS SEEK ANSWERS FROM TESLA OVER LACK OF RECALL

U.S. safety investigators want to know why Tesla didn’t file recall documents when it updated Autopilot software to better identify parked emergency vehicles, escalating a simmering clash between the automaker and regulators.

4 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

CHINA SET TO SEND 3 ASTRONAUTS ON LONGEST CREWED MISSION YET

China is preparing to send three astronauts to live on its space station for six months — a new milestone for a program that has advanced rapidly in recent years.

4 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

UNITED AIRLINES WILL ADD NEW INTERNATIONAL ROUTES NEXT YEAR

United Airlines said Thursday it will launch its biggest expansion of transatlantic service next year, a vote of confidence that international travel will rebound from the depths of the pandemic.

1 min read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021