Fear Of Bugs
Several Ways to Help Your Toddler Overcome a Fear of Bugs
A crippling fear of bugs is one of the more popular phobias in the world, especially with young children. Many children are reduced to tears or screaming fits at just the sight of a bug in the nearby vicinity. Thankfully, it is much easier to help a child get over a fear of something than an adult with a full-blown phobia.
Listed below are several easy ways to help your little one get over their fear of bugs and back in the dirt making mud pies.
How the Fear Develops
Many things can cause a fear of bugs in children. If your child was bitten or stung by a bug, then it’s easy to see why they would be afraid of them. Kids can also learn to be afraid by watching adult behavior. If one of their parents has an extreme fear, the child may develop a phobia through learned behavior. Finally, some kids are simply scared by the sight of them. Bugs have extra legs, antennae, and sometimes pinchers that may give them the appearance of being monster-like.
What You Can Do
For starters, if your child screams and yells at the sight of a bug, you can curb this behavior (and save your eardrums) by explaining to them that it’s okay if they are scared, but the screaming is not acceptable behavior. Tell them if they see a bug that scares them to walk away from it. You should never yell at your child to be quiet, and it’s very counter-productive to tell them to “stop being a baby.”
If your child developed their fear by watching you, then it is on your shoulders to present them a positive role model. Work on your own fear of insects. Show them that bugs are okay by interacting with pleasant types that you can handle. If you don’t mind butterflies, point them out to your child and mention how pretty they are. If a ladybug lands on you, show your child that their parent has a new friend.
Purchase educational toys that introduce your child to the wonderful world of insects. Toys like ant farms and bug boxes are great ways to let your child learn about their six-legged friends in the yard. Even giving your child a butterfly net may be enough to get them outside and viewing bugs in a positive light.
Along these lines, you may want to go lightning bug catching. If you are lucky enough to live in an area that has lightning bugs in the summer, use this to your advantage. Show your child how pretty they are when they light up. If they get braver, you can give them a jar to catch the bugs in and poke holes in the lid for air. Have your child help you collect leaves and sticks to place in the jar as well. If your child is not receptive to this, then don’t force them. Forcing them into the activity will only make them associate bugs with more negative emotions and energies.
Rent bug-friendly movies that will let your child see how fun and friendly bugs can be. There are several computer animated family movies about insects that are available to rent or own on DVD. Consider watching nature shows highlighting the lives of bugs, particularly the less scary ones. It would not be wise to watch them view a special on black widow bites, however. Stick to dragonflies, butterflies, and maybe mosquitoes.
These steps will not have your child getting over their fear in a day or two. It will likely take time. Be vigilant, but not forceful. Eventually they will learn that bugs are an important part of their world and should be respected, not feared.