Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Parenting

Font Size

Childhood Fears and Anxieties

Experts describe how parents can help when their child is afraid.

How can you help your child with fears like these? continued...

Through her research, Lagattuta has learned that children as young as 3 or 4 may know that anticipating the future can cause worry.

"They understand that negative thoughts can make you feel bad before they understand that positive thoughts can help you feel good, which happens around age 7," she says. Despite this awareness, young preschoolers lack the attentive powers to redirect their thoughts, which may explain why trying to talk your young child out of her fears is unproductive. With her own 4-year-old, Lagattuta used a more tangible aid -- having her child draw pictures in a "happy journal," to which she added words as she got older.

Easing Fears in School-Aged Children

An explosion of knowledge and experience during the school years introduces children to more real-world dangers: fire drills, burglars, storms, and wars. Realism begins to set in.

Don't always assume you know the precise source of your child's fears, however. If your child shuns public pools, is it really the water and drowning she's afraid of? Or, is it the lifeguard's whistle? The only way to know is to ask.

With younger children, you can draw them out -- literally. Have them draw two pictures: One is a picture of themselves in the scary situation with a thought "worry bubble" that tells what they're thinking about themselves. Then have them draw a second picture of themselves in the same situation, but with a "smart bubble" that has calmer, more realistic thoughts.

A child who's afraid of a teacher's rejection might say, "The teacher will send me to the principal if I forget my homework." But the "smart bubble" might say, "My friend, Alex, did forget his homework and the teacher only asked him to write himself a reminder."

This technique helps kids make the connection between how they feel when they're telling themselves these two very different stories, says Chansky.

Children who are afraid of natural disasters might also shift into a different mindset by teaching their parents what they've learned at school about storms, tornadoes, or earthquakes. This helps them solidify a different way of looking at the situation.

Today on WebMD

Girl holding up card with BMI written
Is your child at a healthy weight?
toddler climbing
What happens in your child’s second year.
father and son with laundry basket
Get your kids to help around the house.
boy frowning at brocolli
Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
mother and daughter talking
child brushing his teeth
Sipping hot tea
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
rl with friends
tissue box
Child with adhd