Ask Dr. Jean: Scared of Bugs


(Arti Freeman) #1

Dear Dr. Jean,

My niece is scared of bugs. She does not like the summer and will not go out and play in the summer time because there are bugs. How might I support her in getting outdoors?

Thank you.

Anonymous (Parent)

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(Dr. Jean Clinton) #2

Firstly, this is a very common complaint in young children, especially around 4-6, and usually is a passing worry. The most important thing is to acknowledge her feelings and help her label them. Ask questions like ‘It seems you don’t like going outside sometimes. Why is that? Can you help me understand that? If she says she is afraid of bugs… Hold back the impulse to say “You don’t have to be afraid” but rather ask, ‘Tell me more. What makes the bugs scary?’ If she says she is afraid they will bite her, get specific and give her information about bugs and biting. A great resource is the library so you can both become detectives and find out more about bugs that bite and those that don’t.

Then, you can explore how bad is the bite. Following that, get outside and play bug detective. By giving the fear a label first, then making it something within her control, she will feel able to manage over time.