Talking to Kids about Fear

Fear is something that we all have to deal with in our lives. As parents and teachers, it is important for us to help kids learn to address their fears, in order to conquer them and live their lives more fully. When I Was a Child: I Was Always Afraid written by Michael Cascio and illustrated by Bentley Wong, shows how parents can help kids to face common fears in their day to day lives.

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When I Was a Child I Was Always Afraid uses a peppy rhyme and bright illustrations to introduce readers to the lessons on fear that the author learned from his father. He talks about the things he was afraid of as a child, which are familiar fears for a lot of kids (thunder and lightning, dark basements, etc). His father helps him to face these fears by showing him that the scary sounds and images are all in his head. The bright and colorful illustrations show the dark and scary objects the child sees, then shows what they actually look like once his father encourages him to take a closer look. This book provides a great opportunity for parents and children to talk about what they are afraid of, and how they can face those fears together.

The author was inspired to write the book based on the lessons he learned from his father. His father encouraged him to face his fears so that they wouldn’t hold him back in his life. He wrote a poem to help him whenever he got scared, and he used that poem to teach the same lesson to his three kids. This book is the illustrated version of that same poem, and he hopes that it will help other children to learn to face their fears as well.

There are many ways that parents can use this book as a jumping off point for discussing fears and how to face them.

Make a Plan

Fear Book – The author’s father showed him how the scary things in his head weren’t so scary in real life. The illustrator does a great job of showing this in the book’s pictures. Offer your kids the opportunity to show you what they are afraid of with this printable fear book. Sign up below to receive the free printable booklet. Print out the cover page and a few of the book pages. Cut them in half between the boxes. Assemble the pages so the cover page is followed by the reminder. You can then add the “What I Am Afraid of” page and the “Facing My Fears” pages so they are facing each other, creating a two page spread. Have kids illustrate something that they are afraid of on the “What I Am Afraid of” page.

Have them explain their picture to you, then decide how to help them face this fear. It could be something concrete, like when the author’s father shows him the tree during the day. It could also be something they can visualize, just as the author thought of thunder and lightning as bumper cars. Have your child illustrate your plan of action on the “Facing My Fears” page so they can have a reminder when they are scared.

Throw Away Your Fears

Fear Monsters – This is a fun way to help young kids get rid of their fears in a tangible way. Create a monster out of an empty box or bag. I attached paper eyes and teeth to an empty tissue box. Have kids write out things that they are afraid of and “feed” them to the monster by placing them inside his mouth. My mother has always taught my sister and I to write things out when we are scared or frustrated, and I have found that it really does help. By writing out their fears, kids can get their thoughts out onto paper. Feeding them to the monster is a tangible way of removing the fear from themselves and passing it on to this imaginary creature.

Confide in a Loved One

Discussion – This book provides an opening for families to have a conversation about the things that worry them, and how you can overcome those fears. Share with your kids how you overcame a fear when you were younger, or even how you are facing a fear now! Remind them that it is ok to be afraid, but we have the tools to face that fear and overcome it. Keeping an open dialogue as a family can help your kids to face their fears, knowing that you will be there to help them.

Facing our fears is something that we have to deal with throughout our lives. Teaching kids how to confront their fears when they are younger can help them to address fear and worry later in their lives. When I Was a Child: I Was Always Afraid is a great way to start the conversation with your kids! (It is available on Amazon through the links above or through Mascot.)

39 Comments

  • Amy

    April 13, 2017 at 7:51 am

    Fear monsters- what an amazing idea!!! I love it.

    • Vicki

      April 13, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      Thank you!

  • Aundrea

    April 13, 2017 at 8:41 am

    I love the object lesson that goes along with the book. Great share!

    • Vicki

      April 13, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      Thank you!

  • Belle

    April 13, 2017 at 10:04 am

    This is such a great idea to address fear with kids!

    Belle | One Awesome Momma

  • Davi

    April 13, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Great suggestions! The Kleenex box monster is cute!

    • Vicki

      April 13, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      Thank you!

  • Adri

    April 13, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    I don’t have kids yet, but definitely want to remember this for when I do! great post!!!

  • Alissa Ackerman

    April 13, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    This is so cute! Gonna have to save it for when i have kids.

  • Brenda

    April 13, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    I like the idea of writing down your fears and giving them to the fear monster.

  • Nicole Banuelos

    April 14, 2017 at 1:11 am

    These are such great tips! Love the books!

  • Akyn

    April 14, 2017 at 2:51 am

    Awesome idea. Will have this use a reference for my child. Thanks for sharing

  • Amanda | My Own Unexpected Journey

    April 14, 2017 at 9:15 am

    My oldest daughter is afraid of everything. The child is 6 and refuses to be in any room in our entire house on her own. No matter how many times my husband and I try to talk her through what she is scared of, she continues to hold on to her irrational fears. Hopefully your printable is able to help us work through this with her a bit more. I’m also going to check out that book. Thanks for sharing!

    • Vicki

      April 14, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      I hope it helps! I had a lot of fears when I was younger and it took me a long time to get over them (I thought Malificent from Sleeping Beauty lived in our attic!). This book does a great job of showing how we turn innocent things into scary things in our heads.

  • Angela Fry

    April 14, 2017 at 10:21 am

    What a great book. I need to read this to my kiddos. It seems they are afraid of everything these days!

    • Vicki

      April 14, 2017 at 12:30 pm

      I hope it is helpful! I was afraid of a lot of things as a kid too.

  • rachel

    April 14, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    I love the idea of this book. I’ll have to check it out because I’ve been dealing with some struggles with my 4 year old.

    • Vicki

      April 14, 2017 at 11:07 pm

      I hope it’s helpful! It’s definitely a great way to start a conversation!

  • Emily

    April 14, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    This sounds like a great book on an important topic!

  • Caitlin

    April 14, 2017 at 10:34 pm

    I love the fear book! I already talk to my son a lot about his feelings and he’s not even two. He seems fearless now but I know as he gets older we will need to deal with this topic so these are great ways to do so!

    • Vicki

      April 14, 2017 at 11:09 pm

      That’s awesome! My daughter also seems to be fearless right now! I hope she keeps some of that.

  • Kristen

    April 15, 2017 at 7:09 am

    This is such a great book! My girls are just now talking about fear so this would be great to use in your homeschool lessons!

    • Vicki

      April 15, 2017 at 11:55 am

      I’m so glad! It’s a great book for starting a conversation.

  • Kate A

    April 15, 2017 at 11:27 am

    I love that fear monster project! What a great extension activity to accompany the book!

    • Vicki

      April 15, 2017 at 11:56 am

      Thank you!

  • Jasmine Hewitt

    April 15, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Love the concept behind this book!

  • Elizabeth Brico

    April 15, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    That monster box looks like a great ritual. I’m going to try it. My daughters have a lot of fears..I am actually worried that my 3 y/o is kind of neurotic, which I’m sure is my fault. Hopefully this helps!

    • Vicki

      April 15, 2017 at 8:26 pm

      I hope it does! I’m a total worrier, and my daughter doesn’t seem to have any fears yet. Which is it’s own problem!

  • Katie

    April 15, 2017 at 11:27 pm

    Love this craft! Such a perfect way to explain a hard concept.

    • Vicki

      April 16, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      Thank you!

  • Meredith

    April 17, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    I love the concept of the fear monster!! That is so cool, and something I never would have thought of! Thanks!!

  • Dataman55

    April 18, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Another clever idea is Monster Spray. Fill a spray bottle with water and a little bit of lavender oil. Then you spray down the bedroom just before the child gets into bed. The spray keeps the monsters away. It also happens to spread a nice lavender scent that has a calming effect.

  • Ana Canon

    April 20, 2017 at 9:03 pm

    What a creative way to teach children about such an important topic! I love love love the monster box (throw away fear) idea!! thanks so much for sharing.

    • Vicki

      April 20, 2017 at 10:30 pm

      Thank you!

  • Stephanie

    April 22, 2017 at 7:08 am

    Sounds like the perfect book for kids to move past fears. I love your throw away the fear craft!

    • Vicki

      April 22, 2017 at 9:51 am

      Thank you! I think the physical act of doing away with your fears can be helpful!

  • Danielle

    April 23, 2017 at 6:14 am

    This sounds like a great book! I love the idea of making a “fear monster”. 🙂

    • Vicki

      April 23, 2017 at 12:30 pm

      Thank you! It is a very cute book!