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First of all, we have a very clean house. I'm somewhat obsessed about cleanliness, in fact. Yet, sometimes a bug, fly, or spider gets in the house. When that happens, I simply "take care" of the bug – I'm a software developer, and "taking care" of bugs is one of the things I do best :-)

Well, it happened that my 3.5 year old daughter saw a bug in her room a couple of weeks ago. Since then, every time we put her to bed, she says "There are no bugs here", sometimes two, three, or four times. I think she's afraid of a bug coming back. One night she didn't let me leave the room, begging "Daddy, protect me [from the bugs]".

How can I get my daughter to realize that bugs are, in general, nothing to be afraid of?
(Of course, it doesn't help that Daddy actually has, uhmm, mild arachnophobia :-)

Tried already:

  • "Yes, dear, there are no bugs here. You don't need to keep saying that."
  • We told her that most of the bad bugs live in the jungle, and not in Canada.
  • We told her that bugs prefer to stay outside, and sometimes come inside by mistake.
  • We brought in her toy frog (Lily, "count with me") and said bugs don't like frogs.

What did you do when your child developed a similar phobia, fear, or paranoia?

asked 16 Apr '10, 21:05

Chris%20W.%20Rea's gravatar image

Chris W. Rea
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accept rate: 34%

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+1 Good question! My younger sister was afraid of bugs for many years when she was a little girl.

(17 Apr '10, 23:44) cat_g

One of the most common treatments for fears is exposure or to face the things you are afraid of and realize that nothing bad is happening in the process. The idea being that the reality is not as bad as all the worse case scenerios you make up in your mind.

One suggestion might be to change her ideas about bugs and insects by learning more about them. Start with friendly bugs like ladybugs and ants and read about where and how they live, what they eat. In a sense you are demystifying them. Even the "scarier" bugs like spiders can be very interesting.

link

answered 16 Apr '10, 23:40

Tammy's gravatar image

Tammy ♦♦
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edited 17 Apr '10, 23:01

Rich%20Seller's gravatar image

Rich Seller
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Excellent idea. You could also get a bug net & accessories and go bug hunting. I've seen these at dollar stores and Toys R Us.

(17 Apr '10, 02:08) Kate

+1 bugs can be fun and there are lot of safe ones to find outside.

(17 Apr '10, 02:27) K D

It might help you as well. :)

(17 Apr '10, 10:17) pipthegeek
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+1 great points. Perhaps...stories can help too! ( make up characters with names maybe?) This worked a little with my daughter and her fear of cats!

(17 Apr '10, 12:14) Emi

+1 Good suggestions.

(17 Apr '10, 23:45) cat_g

Thanks, I like this suggestion. I'll get her a book about bugs and the bug hunting sounds fun. We get a lot of ladybugs in the backyard during the summer.

(18 Apr '10, 14:02) Chris W. Rea
showing 5 of 6 show 1 more comments

I agree with Tammy's suggestions about exposure and changing her ideas about bugs. I see from your profile that you are in Toronto. Maybe you could take her to the Ontario Science Centre or even the Butterfly Conservatory (in Niagara-on-the-lake and free for kids under 5) where she could have a chance to examine some bugs up close, but in a way where she feels in control.

link

answered 17 Apr '10, 23:43

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cat_g
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Actually, good idea - my daughter loves butterflies... I don't know if she thinks of them as bugs, though. I'll have to remind her that butterflies are also bugs next time she mentions the bug fear.

(18 Apr '10, 14:01) Chris W. Rea

@Chris W. Rea, I hope she doesn't develop a fear for butterflies if you tell her butterflies are also bugs.

(19 Apr '10, 09:03) Fisherman

Our daughter is scared of bugs, and unfortunately we live in a very damp, wooded area w/ tons of spiders and bugs and there's no way we'd ever be able to keep them all out of the house. She still gets freaked out if she's surprised by seeing one, or if there's a scary-looking guard spider on the ground (and she'll shriek if it runs around), but when there's just a daddy longlegs sitting in the corner, she's fine. I'm hoping that over time she'll stop being afraid, although I expect I'll still be the spider-killer for a while yet.

ADDED: Apparently repeatedly seeing bugs is working... I'm sure she's a long way from not being scared of spiders, but yesterday a ladybug got in the house and I was able to get it on my hands and our daughter was willing to let it walk onto hers. She spent half an hour watching it walk all over her hands and forearms without freaking out at all.

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answered 19 Apr '10, 20:49

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Ward
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edited 02 May '10, 00:01

Eeek, I would be startled too at any scary-looking guard spider :-D

(19 Apr '10, 23:44) Chris W. Rea
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Asked: 16 Apr '10, 21:05

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Last updated: 02 May '10, 00:01