Fears and Anxieties in Early Childhood

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  • 0:01 Early Childhood
  • 0:51 Fear
  • 3:15 Helping Kids
  • 5:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Fear is a normal part of childhood, but many parents worry when their children act fearful. Watch this lesson to find out more about the purpose of fear, common childhood fears, and what parents can do to help children deal with fear.

Early Childhood

Gabe is five years old, and his mom Gillian is worried about him. Gabe seems to be scared a lot. He has trouble going to sleep at night because he's afraid of the dark. Even with a nightlight on, he gets scared of what's in the shadows. Gillian is worried that there might be something wrong with Gabe and that he's more scared than other kids his age.

What Gabe is going through is a normal part of early childhood, or the time between age two and age six or seven. Many kids experience fear and anxiety as they move from infancy into early childhood. Let's look closer at the nature of fear, common fears that children have, and what parents and other adults can do to help children deal with their fear and anxiety.


So Gabe is really scared of the dark, and we know that's normal for a five-year-old. But why do kids get scared? For that matter, why does anyone experience fear?

Psychologists often ask why certain traits have been passed down through time in the human race. Essentially, they are looking at how evolution affects psychology. Evolutionary theory basically says that the traits that are most likely to lead to survival will be the ones that are passed down.

Let's look at how this plays out with fear. Imagine a caveman who is not afraid of anything. He's the bravest, most daring caveman of all. He will stare down saber-toothed tigers and laugh at big anacondas. In short, he has no fear. Now imagine his caveman buddy who has a healthy amount of fear. When he sees a saber-toothed tiger or a big snake, he runs away instead of risking it.

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