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Ask The Expert - Overcoming Fear

by on 04/02/2015 5011


Question : I have a 5 year-old son. Since he was about 3, he has always been rather squirmish about many things – dirt, creepy crawlies and dirty floors, just to name a few. Lately, he’s been terrified of many things such as the dark, butterflies, and even dust bunnies. I don’t want to force him to “grow up” because I don’t want to make him feel inferior as a boy, but what can I do to boost his confidence so he wants to explore more on his own? Because of this, he can’t really enjoy outdoor activities much, something my husband and I love to do with our family.

Answer : To be fearful of things and events are normal for everyone. There is no definite distinct lines what a boy or girl should be or do, including how they should react to uncomfortable things. If the child is still young, it is great parenting to try to expose the child to different objects and events. Stretching their boundaries in areas where they dislike and unable to participate should be always be elicited through these simple strategies.

1. Always get consent 

Seeking their participation require consent from the child, even for younger children. Getting them to agree to try or partially participate builds self-awareness and confidence. Often parents forget that children may not know why they have to do certain things, thus do not ask why their children do not want to participate. Get consent and if the child resist, listen to their reasons first. It may not be as bad as not doing those things that you like. Every child is different.

2. Always try only one new thing at a time 

Do not over engage your child with too many things at one go. Always do one new thing at a time, often using the previous successful approach. For example, if you want your child to learn to be comfortable with touching an animal, starts by sharing interesting stories about that animal in a way that the child understands. You can show examples of how that animal will react before letting the child explore with a real one. Another example will be trying new food. Always try new food only when the child is comfortable with the place or way of eating.

3. Always be positive 

Be positive if the child rejects because this is part of growing up. The ability to reject appropriately is a good sign that the child knows what he/she likes and wants. Parents can stretch their children boundaries by being positive in letting the child reject most of time, but get the child to agree some time. If the parents love outdoor activities and the child dislike them, encourage him/her to participate some of them because it is a family event and he/she is greatly appreciated for participation. Conversely, parents can in turn participate in what he/she likes and wants to build general agreements where the family togetherness is the purpose, not just the activities.

If you have any question, please email your question to (with email subject "Ask The Expert").

Thank you in advance for your participation.


About Our Expert

Professor Dr. Eric Lim is the founder of Kits4Kids Foundation, a foundation that specializes in the education and development of children with special needs. 

He also leads many international social enterprises all around the world. Prof. Dr. Eric Lim holds a PhD in Educational Management as well as Masters of Education, Bachelor of Special Education and Masters of Psychology, focusing on child psychology and counseling.

He is passionate about helping as many people as he could in spreading the love for children and humanity.

Prof. Dr. Eric Lim is here to answer your questions on:

  • Childhood care (Aged infants and above)
  • Children education
  • Play tools for skills development
  • Family counseling
  • Other relevant areas