What are childhood fears and which are the most frequent?

Let’s see what the most common childhood fears are and how they affect boys and girls.

Fears are very useful emotions that for hundreds of thousands of years have helped us avoid all kinds of threats throughout the evolution of our species, and to be cautious in unknown, risky or dangerous situations.

Now, one of the characteristics of emotions is that they are not limited by the logic of reason, and that is why they sometimes appear or disappear in ways that get us into trouble, especially if we do not know how to manage them. And in the case of fear, we are relatively prone to suffer it in situations in which it does not bring us benefits: moments in which we are not exposed to real dangers, but, in any case, only to imagined dangers.

Taking into account that in the first years of human life our capacity for abstract and rational thought is limited, and that we have little information about how the world works, it is not surprising that many children suffer from childhood fears on a frequent basis. These are stressful and distressing experiences that, if not properly addressed by parents, can damage their quality of life and make them not dare to learn on their own. For this reason, in this article we will talk about the most common childhood fears and their characteristics, so that it is easy to understand why they occur.

What are childhood fears?

In the early stages of child development, it is very common for the boy or girl to develop specific fears that are more or less intense in line with their personality traits and their way of being; fears that make you avoid supposedly dangerous, risky or unknown situations.

These fears can be experienced in objectively harmless situations during their growth , something that is perfectly normal and that can favor their correct intellectual and emotional development.

In a certain sense, childhood fears are useful: they serve to prevent the ignorance of the little ones in the house from exposing them to dangerous situations, and that they do not go too far from their parents (or in any case, that they do so through contexts they already know well).

Many of these fears, however, can remain sustained over time, which in the long run generates a very negative impact on both the physical and psychological health of the child or adolescent.

In this article we will focus on those maladaptive fears that notably affect the mental health of the child, as well as the main characteristics of the most common childhood fears.

There are a series of childhood fears that are usually shared with greater prevalence among young and preadolescent boys and girls; Let’s see what they are.

Most common childhood fears

Intense fears in children tend to appear more commonly between the ages of 3 and 6; however, at other ages, maladaptive and exacerbated fears can also be experienced that ostensibly affect the physical or psychological health of the child.

Because childhood fears can change as the child’s development evolves, here we present the main fears associated with each stage of growth of the boy or girl.

  1. Between 8 and 9 months of age

Babies who are between 8 and 9 months old usually have great fear or strong anxiety about strangers. It is at this stage that they begin to develop the ability to identify familiar faces; however, they are frightened and disturbed by the faces of unknown people .

This fear can be solved by the parents, helping the baby to feel safe and making him sleep in his own room from 5 months so that he does not develop excessive dependence.

  1. Between 10 months and 3 years

Around the age of 3, babies usually develop a fear of abandonment that can vary in intensity depending on their personal characteristics. This fear or separation anxiety manifests itself whenever they have to be separated from their parents and causes them great discomfort .

This usually happens when we leave the baby in the nursery or when his parents have to separate from him for a few hours. At these times the child may refuse to let her parents leave and cry profusely.

Although this reaction can be normal in some children, the problem can arise when this fear of abandonment continues for several years and continues to present a fear of separation from their parents.

  1. At 4 years old

Around 4 years of age, the fear of the dark usually appears, one of the most shared by boys and girls around the world, whose catalyst is being in dark rooms and without any light to see their surroundings .

It is a fear that we can solve by leaving a small light on in his room and that can become a problem if it lasts more than 2 or 3 years in the child’s life.

  • Maybe you’re interested: “Respectful upbringing of boys and girls: 6 tips for parents”
  1. Up to 6 years

Between the ages of 4 and 6, fear of unreal things or beings is common , such as the presence of monsters or any other fantastic or mythological creature.

This fear is due to the fact that the child is not yet capable of distinguishing what is real from what is not, which is why he may feel threatened by all kinds of terrifying creatures under his bed or inside the closet in his room.

  1. From 7 years old

Boys and girls over the age of 7 start to develop fears about things that can happen in real life, no matter how unlikely they are .

For example, at this age they often fear that there is a stranger at home who could harm them, that a loved one could die, and that a traffic accident or natural disaster could happen.

In addition to that, some of the other childhood fears that are triggered at that age have to do with the fear of exams or academic results and the fear of not fitting in with classmates.


  1. During adolescence and pre-adolescence

During the period of adolescence and pre-adolescence it is common for fears to be mostly related to social issues.

These fears are usually the fear of not having friends, the fear of one’s own physical image, the fear of not fitting in at school or college, or the fear of failing in academics, sports, or in love.


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