8 Steps for Helping Your Child Overcome a Fear

By Kate Kelly

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Fears are a normal part of childhood—and so is learning to overcome them. But kids with learning and attention issues may have more fears than other kids do. They may worry about failing at school, about not fitting in with other kids, about what the future holds for them or about problems that relate to their specific issues.

Kids with learning and attention issues may also have more trouble overcoming their fears and need extra support to do it. But as a parent, there’s a lot you can do to help your child get past her fears. Here’s a step-by-step plan.


Be a good listener.

Ask your child to tell you exactly why she’s afraid. Putting her emotions in words makes them more manageable.


Take the fear seriously.

Saying, “That’s silly” won’t convince your child she’ll get into college. But it may make her reluctant to open up.


Don’t let your child just avoid what she fears.

It may seem easier, but it just reinforces her fear and suggests she can’t master it.


Send the message that she can overcome this fear.

Tell her it’s OK to be afraid, but she’ll get through this and you’ll help.


Ask your child what might help.

Brainstorm ideas. If she’s afraid of attending a party, perhaps she can go with a group of friends.


Help your child take small steps.

She might practice for a sleepover by spending a night in her sister’s room or the living room.


Make contingency plans.

Brainstorm solutions: “If I get lost on the field trip, I’ll text my travel buddy. Or I’ll find a museum guard.”


Let your child know you’re proud.

When she faces—and survives—something she feared, she’ll gain confidence she can handle other fears, too.

About the Author

Portrait of Kate Kelly

Kate Kelly has been writing and editing for more than 20 years, with a focus on parenting.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Molly Algermissen

Molly Algermissen, Ph.D., is an associate professor of medical psychology at Columbia University Medical Center and clinical director of PROMISE.

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