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Kids have worries from monsters to natural disasters. They can appear at random or may be triggered by everyday events. Their increasing awareness of the world, who is in it, and being able to anticipate bad things happening, can all increase their alarm.


Many of children’s fears can be existential, meaning they are indicative of a child’s growth and development as a separate being. Separation is the most impactful of all experiences and stirs up the emotional center of the brain and can create feelings of fear. As a child becomes increasingly independent, they are less dependent upon their caretakers, which may foster some worry. As a child ages, this fear is often transformed into different themes, but shares this common root issue.

Worries and fears that ebb and flow are part of the human condition, in fact, a lot of the brain’s energy is spent on evaluating incoming information for threats and sending out signals to the body. We don’t always know when we are afraid and have an emotional unconscious that operates outside of our conscious awareness. Joseph LeDoux, one of the world’s leading neuroscientists who studies anxiety, has shown that it is possible to be full of fear yet rendered speechless.

Common fears and worries by age groups

The following list contains some of the common fears and worries children may express at different ages. Many of these things are related to developmental changes and immaturity. Sometimes children may not able to articulate what their fears are and strategies for helping kids with higher levels of anxiety can be found in Helping the Anxious Teen or Child Find Rest and When the Worry Bugs are in Your Tummy.

0 to 6 months: Babies can show signs of fear at loud noises given they are unexpected and surprising. The loss of physical, visual and auditory contact with their adults can also lead to alarm because the parts of the brain responsible for object permanence are not fully developed. When they lose contact with someone, they don’t know that this person will return as they lack an understanding that objects are permanent in time and space.

7 to 12 months: A child at this age can show signs of understanding that objects are permanent as well as causality. They realize that their adults can reappear and that they do have some influence on the actions of others, for example, when they cry someone will come to pick them up. At this age, it is common for them to display stranger protest which indicates their brain has developed enough to lock onto one person as a primary caretaker. This can result in playing shy with people they are not in contact with on a regular basis as well as showing preference for being in the company of their primary attachments. They are still often frightened by loud noises as well as objects that suddenly appear or loom over them.

1 year: Separation from parents is a common source of alarm and fear at this age and continues until six years of age. A young child is still highly dependent on adults for caretaking, therefore; they can be alarmed when distant from them. They can also be frightened if they get hurt, as well as loud sounds such as toilets flushing.

2 years: Young children at this age often exhibit some fear or animals as well as large objects. Their smaller size as well as lack of understanding about these things likely increases their alarm level. They may also state they are afraid of dark rooms with separation at night becoming increasingly challenging. Young children often feel most comfortable with structure and routine so changes in their environment can be potential source of concern for them.

3 to 4 years: With the increasing development of their brains, a young child’s imagination and capacity to anticipate bad things happening to them or others can increase. Their dreams may become more vivid with monsters appearing as well as other scary things. They can be afraid of animals, masks, the dark and can seek comfort in the middle of the night when worried. There can be a heightened level of separation from parents because of their increasing independence, as evident in their exclamations of “I do it myself” and “No, I do!”

5 to 6 years: At this age a child may voice fears of being hurt physically as well as of “bad people.” Their play may reflect these themes as they start to imagine bad things happening that are not based in reality. They may voice concerns over ghosts and witches or other supernatural beings. Thunder and lightning may stir them up, too. Sleeping or staying on their own can still be provocative as they are just coming to the end of their development as a separate self.

7 to 8 years: Common fears include being left alone and can lead to wanting company, even if they are playing by themself. They may talk about death and worry about things that could harm them, for example, car accidents to plane crashes. They may still struggle with fears of the dark, as an extension of their growth as a separate being.

9 to 12 years: The “tween” may express worries related to school performance including a fear of tests and exams. They may have concerns with their physical appearance as well as being injured or dying. As they become more of a separate and social being, they can consider and compare who they are against others which can create some alarm. They may state their discomfort that they are growing up and don’t want to while other kids seem eager to leave childhood behind. It is important to note that the more peer-oriented a child is, the more anxiety they may experience at this age as they turn to their peers for understanding who they are.

Adolescence: For the teenager, personal relationships can be a source of confusion, worry and fear. As they venture forth as a social being, they still need to be anchored to caretakers at home to help them make sense of school issues including their friendships. They may voice fears over political issues given their increasing awareness of the world and movement towards adulthood. Some teens show signs of increasing superstition in an attempt to reduce some of the fears they have at this age, too. Anticipating the future and what it holds for them can become a source of worry, along with natural disasters, and other themes related to growing up.

Strategies for dealing with worries

For the young child, their fears are often alleviated through connection with caring adults who provide safety and reassurance. As a child ages, their increasing maturity will mean they will need to find both courage and tears to face their fears. This growth can be cultivated with the help of adults they trust and can count on.

Connection: When kids are worried, the best sources of support will come from their closest attachments. Listening to a child’s worries, acknowledging how they are feeling and coming alongside them can help to lessen their fears. Coming alongside means to listen with full attention and to reflect what you have heard instead of problem solving or negating what they have said. If a child’s level of fears and worries are more persistent and chronic, then taking steps to tackle anxiety may be appropriate.

Play with fear: One of the ways a child’s alarm system develops is by interacting with the world around them. While they may be startled, or show signs of fear, being able to play at this experience can help to diffuse its intensity. As a child plays their brain can integrate the signals as fear is less likely to hijack their emotional systems. Traditional games that can help include hide and seek, peek a boo, board games, to stories that include risk and fear.

Courage and bravery: Children under the age of five to seven are unable to exhibit courage because of the lack of integration in their prefrontal cortex. They are only able to feel one intense emotion at a time, so their fear can overwhelm them and when pushed, they can become frustrated, resistant, or attack. When a child is six or younger, it may be better to use a relationship with someone they trust to walk them into things that might be new or scary. It is important not to let their fears take the lead in terms of deciding what they should or should not do. For kids who are older, helping them to express what bothers them is helpful. When they can find their words for what scares them, they are better able to articulate their desires that will help them be courageous in the face of what alarms them.

Tears: Fears can also be alleviated by helping a child express their sadness about the things that worry them. For example, they may talk about a friend who doesn’t always play with them to not wanting to grow up. Sometimes the only thing left to do is to cry or feel one’s disappointment in the face of one’s fears. This will result in a release of the fear as well as some resiliency in the face of one’s worries.

The brain is a sophisticated alarm system that is meant to be activated when separation is anticipated or real. As a child ages, the shape and form of their fears and worries can change in reflection of their increasing development. The role of adults in their life is to cultivate deep connections with them, listen and acknowledge that they are afraid, help them be cautious, find their tears or be moved to courage as the ultimate answer to their alarm.

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While breastfeeding might seem like a simple task, there are so many pieces to the puzzle aside from your breasts and baby. From securing a good latch, boosting your milk supply and navigating pumping at work or feeding throughout the night, there's a lot that mama has to go through—and a number of products she needs.

No matter how long your nursing journey may be, it can be hard to figure out what items you really need to add to your cart. So we asked our team at Motherly to share items they simply couldn't live without while breastfeeding. You know, those ones that are a total game-changer.

Here are the best 13 products that they recommend—and you can get them all from Walmart.com:

1. Medela Nursing Sleep Bra

"This fuss-free nursing bra was perfect for all the times that I was too tired to fumble with a clasp. It's also so comfy that, I have to admit, I still keep it in rotation despite the fact that my nursing days are behind me (shh!)." —Mary S.

Price: $15.99

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2. Dr. Brown's Baby First Year Transition Bottles

"My daughter easily transitioned back and forth between breastfeeding and these bottles." —Elizabeth

Price: $24.98

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3. Multi-Use Nursing Cover

"When I was breastfeeding, it was important to me to feel like a part of things, to be around people, entertain guests, etc. Especially since so much of being a new mom can feel isolating. So having the ability to cover up but still breastfeed out in the open, instead of disappearing into a room somewhere for long stretches alone to feed, made me feel better."—Renata

Price: $11.99

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4. Lansinoh TheraPearl Breast Therapy Pack

"I suffered from extreme engorgement during the first weeks after delivery with both of my children. I wouldn't have survived had it not been for these packs that provided cold therapy for engorgement and hot therapy for clogged milk ducts." —Deena

Price: $10.25

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5. Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump Wipes

"Being a working and pumping mama, these quick clean wipes made pumping at the office so much easier, and quicker. I could give everything a quick wipe down between pumping sessions. And did not need a set of spare parts for the office." —Ashley

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6. Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter

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7. Medela Double Electric Pump

"I had latch issues and terrible postpartum anxiety, and was always worried my son wasn't getting enough milk. So I relied heavily on my breast pump so that I could feed him bottles and know exactly how much he was drinking. This Medela pump and I were best friends for almost an entire year" —Karell

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8. Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads

"I overproduced in the first couple weeks (and my milk would come in pretty much every time my baby LOOKED at my boobs), so Lansinoh disposable nursing pads saved me from many awkward leak situations!" —Justine

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9. Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump

"This has been a huge help in saving the extra milk from the letdown during breastfeeding and preventing leaks on my clothes!" —Rachel

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10. Medela Harmony Breast Pump

"Because I didn't plan to breastfeed I didn't buy a pump before birth. When I decided to try, I needed a pump so my husband ran out and bought this. It was easy to use, easy to wash and more convenient than our borrowed electric pump." —Heather

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11. Milkies Fenugreek

"I struggled with supply for my first and adding this to my regimen really helped with increasing milk." —Mary N.

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12. Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags

"I exclusively pumped for a year with my first and these are hands down the best storage bags. All others always managed to crack eventually. These can hold a great amount and I haven't had a leak! And I have used over 300-400 of these!" —Carla

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13. Kiinde Twist Breastfeeding Starter Kit

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This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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While you're gearing up for (or in the middle of) back to school season, Halloween may seem like it will never get here, but it's only a couple of months away. And if you can barely wait for the leaves to fall and temperatures to drop, Disney and Amazon are here to get you in the spooky spirit.

Enter: Disney's Halloween shop on Amazon. 🎃This curated collection features tons of items for the season and we love that many are nods to some of our favorite festive movies. Think: Hocus Pocus and A Nightmare Before Christmas.

From Halloween costumes for kids to ghostly mugs for mama, these are the best items for the entire family:

1. Disney Jack Skellington Mug

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If you're a fan of Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas, this will be your favorite mug to sip your coffee or tea from.

Price: $12.99

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2. My First Halloween Board Book

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Halloween doesn't have to be scary, mama. This touch and feel board book introduces baby to the season.

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3. Anna + Elsa Costume

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Get a head start on your costumes by adding this one to your cart. Bonus points for having accessories that can be used for playtime year-round.

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4. Minnie Mouse Sequin Ears

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If you don't want to fully dress up to trick or treat, add on these ears to feel festive for less.

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5. Hocus Pocus Women's Tee

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Hocus Pocus will always be a favorite. For a humorous take on being a mama, add this one to your wardrobe.

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Ashley Graham is having a baby! The supermodel recently shared the exciting news on social media — and it didn't take long for her to make an important statement about pregnant bodies.

Ashley shared a beautiful photo featuring something nearly every woman on the planet has: stretch marks. The photo, which features Ashley nude and seemingly unfiltered, is kind of revolutionary—because while it's completely normal for a woman to have stretch marks (especially during pregnancy), we don't often get to see celebrities rocking this reality on magazine covers or even in social media posts.

That's probably why Ashley, who will welcome her firstborn with husband Justin Ervin, is earning so much praise for the photo, which she posted on Instagram. The images shows the model's side with the caption "same same but a little different".

One follower who is loving this real look at a pregnant body? Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum, who writes "My Lord, THANK YOU for this."

Ashley's post touches another user in an unexpected way: "I'm such a wimp. I'm pregnant, hormonal, and going though so many body changes. This made me tear up. I really needed this today," she writes.

Another user adds: "I showed my husband this photo and he said, 'See! She's just like you' I am almost 21 weeks pregnant and I've been struggling with my changing body. I love how much you embrace it. I've always looked up to you and your confidence. ❤️ Congratulations on your babe!"

Yet another follower adds: "This is what girls need to see. We need this as a reference for real and relatable. Women young and old. Thank you!"

Of course this is social media we're talking about so a few hateful comments make their way into the mix—but Ashley's many advocates shut that down. We have to applaud this stunning mom-to-be for showing the world how pregnancy really changes your body.

Women everywhere can see themselves in this photo of a supermodel (and how often does that happen?). That's powerful stuff—and it just might make it a little bit easier for the rest of us to embrace the changes we see in our own bodies.

One follower sums it all up best, writing: "I CANNOT WAIT for you to be a mother and teach another human being that ALL bodies are beautiful. You're going to be such an amazing mother."

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For a lot of families, summer is a season where rules relax and bedtimes get pushed back a little later than usual. But with school starting, weekday mornings are about to start a lot earlier for many kids, and parents might be wondering how to reset the clock on bedtimes.

According to Terry Cralle, an RN, certified clinical sleep expert and the spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council, a new school year is a good opportunity for families to get a fresh start on sleep routines.

"We have to start with really making sufficient sleep a family priority [and] having some discussions about the importance of sleep with our children," Cralle tells Motherly. "It shouldn't be at bedtime when everyone's cranky and tired. It should be during the day that families really discuss the importance of sleep for all family members."

If you need to have a conversation about getting enough sleep for school, try the following tips from Cralle.

1. Be positive about sleep

Make sure that younger children, especially, understand that sleep is a positive, not negative thing, and don't use the threat of bedtime as punishment.

"What we want to do is, ideally, change how children perceive sleep because children can see sleep as a great big timeout where they're missing out on things," Cralle explains, suggesting that parents instead try to present sleep and bedtime routines as "with positivity and as just a non-negotiable part of our lives."

Cralle wants parents to make sure they're talking with their kids about how a lack of sleep can impact one's mood, health and academic ability. Just as we teach our kids about the importance of eating healthy, we should be teaching them about the importance of sleeping healthy, and from an early age.

2. Empower your children with choices

According to Cralle, it's really important to empower children with choices around bedtime, because the one thing they can't have a choice in is the fact that they do need to go to sleep.

"They're going be more accountable, more responsible, and hopefully, develop good sleep habits and practice good hygiene early in life," if we empower them through simple choices, Cralle suggests.

"So we can say, what pajamas do you want to wear to bed tonight? What book do you want to read? Let them participate. If they can pick out their color of their pillowcase, let them do it. Whatever's age appropriate."

3. Let them do their own bedtime math

Instead of just telling kids when they need to go to bed, involve them in figuring out an appropriate bedtime.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine lists how much sleep kids need depending on their age. Have them look up how much sleep a kid their age needs, and then show them the National Sleep Foundation's online bedtime calculator. Kids can choose how many hours of sleep they need and when they want to wake up, and it will show them when they need to go to bed.

It's not an arbitrary decision mom and dad made, it's science and math, and you can't argue with that.

4. Add one sleep item to the back-to-school shopping list

Cralle says adding one sleep-related item to the back to school shopping list can really help children understand the importance of sleep as they head back into the classroom. A conversation about how getting a good night's sleep is important for school success, combined with a shopping trip for a new pillowcase or comforter can really help children see sleep as an important priority, and give them something to look forward to using at bedtime.

5. Provide an environment conducive to sleep

When our kids are infants we're really good at setting up rooms that can help them sleep. But as our children age out of cribs and start to accumulate a lot of possessions and playthings, their rooms can become a less ideal sleeping environment.

According to Cralle, it's not uncommon for kids to get up after bedtime and start playing with toys in their room. She recommends removing stimulating toys or storing them in another area of the home, and never putting televisions, tablets or smartphones in a child's room.

6. Enact a media curfew

At least an hour before bedtime, screen time should come to an end and other, more relaxing activities can begin. Cralle says families can designate a certain hour as DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time, or move from away from brightly lit screens and towards a board games or puzzles, "things to do to get that blue light out of their eyes."

A family-wide media curfew can be a good thing, says Cralle, as it helps parents "walk the walk" when it comes to sleep hygiene. "Don't be looking at your iPad and tell your child to put it away," she explains.

7. Remember: It's never too late for good sleep habits.

According to Cralle, age 3 is the ideal time to start reinforcing the importance of sleep for a child's health, but older kids and even mom and dad can reverse bad bedtime habits if the whole family buys in. That may mean curtailing your kids' (and your own) caffeine consumption, says Cralle.

"We're seeing younger and younger age groups of school children walking around with their Starbucks cups, with coffee, late in the afternoon," says Cralle, who thinks a lot of parents just don't have good information on how caffeine consumption can impact sleep—for our kids and ourselves.

She recommends limiting the number of caffeinated beverages available in the house if you've got tweens and teens at home, and watching your own consumption as well.

"We have to say 'Here's how we're all going to approach it.' It's sort of like seat belts with children, we never would buckle them in and get into the car, and not do it ourselves."

This may be the season to tweak your own sleep habits mama. Here's to a well-rested September.

[Correction: August 24, 2018: The sleep calculator was created by the National Sleep Foundation, not the Better Sleep Council.]

[A version of this post was originally published August 23, 2018. It has been updated.]

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Learn + Play

Finding out that you are having multiples is always a surprise, but finding out that you're in labor with triplets when you didn't even know you were pregnant, well that's the mother of all surprises.

It happened to Dannette Glitz of South Dakota on August 10. The Associated Press reports she had no idea she was pregnant and thought the pain she was experiencing was kidney stones.

"I never felt movement, I never got morning sickness, nothing!" Glitz explains in a social media post.

"Well this was a huge shock"

When Glitz posted photos of her triplets to her Facebook page last week one of her friends was confused. "What? You really had triplets?" they asked.

Glitz (who has two older children) started getting pain in her back and sides in the days before the birth, but it felt like the kidney stones she had previously experienced so she brushed it off. Eventually, she was in so much pain all she could do was lay in bed and cry.

"It hurt to move and even breath[e]," she wrote, explaining that she decided to go to an Urgent Care clinic, "thinking I'm going to have to have surgery to break the stones up."

A pregnancy test at Urgent Care revealed Glitz was pregnant—that was the first surprise. The second surprise happened when a heart monitor revealed the possibility of twins.

'I need another blanket, there's a third'

Glitz was transferred to a regional hospital in Spearfish, South Dakota. "And in about 2 hours they confirmed twins as there was 2 heart beats," she writes.

Glitz was 34 weeks along and four centimeters dilated. She was transferred again, rushed by ambulance to the hospital in Rapid City and prepped for a C-section. When the C-section was happening she heard the doctor announce that Baby A was a boy and Baby B was a girl.

"Then [the doctor] yells 'I need another blanket, there's a third' ....I ended up having triplets, 1 boy [and] 2 girls," Glitz writes.

Glitz and her husband Austin named their surprise children Blaze, Gypsy and Nikki and each of the trio weighed about 4 pounds at birth. Because the couple's older children are school-aged, they didn't have any baby stuff at home. Friends quickly rallied, raising over $2,000 via a Facebook fundraiser to help the family with unexpected expenses.

A family of seven 

The family is getting used to their new normal and is so thankful for the community support and donations. "It's amazing in a small town how many people will come together for stuff that's not expected," Glitz told KOTA TV.

Her oldest, 10-year-old Ronnie, is pretty happy about a trio of siblings showing up suddenly.

"One time I seen a shooting star and I wished for a baby brother, and I wished for like two sisters for my little sister because she always wanted a little sister, I knew this day was always going to come," Ronnie told TV reporters.

Ronnie may not have been surprised, but everyone else in this story certainly was.

Congratulations to Danette and her family! You've got this, mama.

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