Children confuse fantasy with reality. They think that objects are “alive.” They don’t fully understand cause and- effect relationships. These are common fears for three to four year olds:
Fear of separation.
- Preschoolers experience many separations from their parents. They are left with babysitters and they may leave home to go to childcare.
- When separating from your child, stay with him a while to help him get used to the new adults, children, toys or the room. He will feel more secure and let you go with fewer tears.
- Always tell your child that you are leaving. “Sneaking out” only makes him more fearful.
Fear of baths.
- Many young children worry about going down the drain with the water. No amount of logical talk will change this fear.
- Allow your child to play in water in a pan, a sink and lastly — leaning over the edge of the tub.
- Gradually, the fear will go away. Never leave your child alone in the tub.
Fear of dogs.
- Dogs are often loud, fast moving and unpredictable. No wonder some children are afraid of them.
- Look at pictures of dogs and talk about them with your child.
- Watch one from across the street and, finally, pick a gentle dog for your child to approach with you.
- Fear of loud noises.
- Loud noises from vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, saws, fire engines and ambulances are scary.
- Let your child look at and touch appliances in your home before you turn them on.
- Look at pictures of a fire truck and talk about why its sound is so loud.
- Teach your child to cover his ears to muffle loud sounds.
Fear of change.
- Your child probably likes his world best when things go along as usual. He enjoys hearing the same story and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day for lunch.
- When things change — such as dinner is served at a different time, or Mom or Dad don’t come home from work at the usual time — your child may become afraid.
- When you know changes are going to happen, tell the child about what will probably happen — and ask him to talk about it with you.
Fear of the dark.
- Children are often afraid of the dark.
- It is OK to keep lights on or give your child a flashlight at bedtime.
- With time, you can reduce the amount of light. Some children decide on their own to turn lights off.