Kids bed experts Cuckooland and child clinical psychologist, Lucy Russell have teamed up to put together the top 7 children's fears. Exploring what the fears are and why they seem so scary to little ones. 

Parenting on Female First

Parenting on Female First

Death: A common fear at around 7-9 yrs old when children start to understand mortality and realise that at some point, life comes to an end.

Burglars or ‘baddies’: Common at any age. A fear that is likely to surface if a child has watched/heard about burglary/baddies on the news for example, or if a friend or relative has had an experience of such a crime. The thought of a stranger in their ‘safe space’ can be a difficult one.

Natural disasters or events (e.g thunder): The thought of natural disasters can be overwhelming, and young children (aged 3-9) do not yet have the rational thinking skills to be able to understand how unlikely these events are. For example, last year Lucy spoke to a boy who would not go camping because he feared a tsunami (in the UK, inland). When natural events such as thunder happen, children will require a lot of comfort/soothing, so that they can learn to self-soothe over time.

Failure/getting things wrong: Common in teenagers but often from the age of seven and upwards as well. Our culture places a huge emphasis on "success", particularly academic success. How parents "model" coping with failure will be crucial. For example, bouncing back from their own failures, laughing at themselves, and encouraging the belief that we learn and grow through failures will help to combat this.

Being rejected by others: There are good evolutionary reasons for this. Back when we were cavemen and lived in forests and caves, we could not afford to be rejected or separated from the group, as we would probably die and so the fear of rejection is innate and something that impacts us from a young age.

The darkness: Again from an evolutionary perspective this makes sense. Night and darkness was a time when predators were rife and children were unable to defend themselves, so were left more vulnerable.

Germs or illness: You guessed it, there's an evolutionary reason why we fear germs as well! Those who were cautious around illness historically, were more likely to survive and so this has been carried forward as a method of survival.

If your children are struggling to sleep at night when scared, a few things you can do could include, just before they doze off, planting kind, friendly familiar thoughts; like talking about the things your child loves. Playtime with friends, sleepovers, holidays they enjoyed, favourite places etc. Having a regular bedtime routine will help, it may include a light, healthy (non sugar!) snack; brushing teeth; bedtime story or  a hug and reassuring chat. 

More tips can be found on to help your child sleep through the night and get to know a regular routine.

If you are looking for support on helping your children deal with fears and nightmares, visit

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