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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.

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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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Sometimes it can feel like toys are a mama's frenemy. While we love the idea of entertaining our children and want to give them items that make them happy, toys can end up taking the joy out of our own motherhood experience. For every child begging for another plastic figurine, there's a mama who spends her post-bedtime hours digging toys out from under the couch, dining room table and probably her own bed.

Like so many other moms, I've often found myself between this rock and hard place in parenting. I want to encourage toys that help with developmental milestones, but struggle to control the mess. Is there a middle ground between clutter and creative play?

Enter: Lovevery.

lovevery toys

Lovevery Play Kits are like the care packages you wish your child's grandparent would send every month. Expertly curated by child development specialists, each kit is crafted to encourage your child's current developmental milestones with beautiful toys and insightful activity ideas for parents. A flip book of how-tos and recommendations accompanies each box, giving parents not only tips for making the most of each developmental stage, but also explaining how the games and activities benefit those growing brains.

Even better, the toys are legitimately beautiful. Made from eco-friendly, sustainable materials materials and artfully designed, I even find myself less bothered when my toddler leaves hers strewn across the living room floor.

What I really love, though, is that the kits are about so much more than toys. Each box is like a springboard of imaginative, open-ended play that starts with the included playthings and expands into daily activities we can do during breakfast or while driving to and from lessons. For the first time, I feel like a company isn't just trying to sell me more toys―they're providing expert guidance on how to engage in educational play with my child. And with baby kits that range from age 0 to 12 months and toddler kits for ages 13 to 24 months, the kits are there for me during every major step of development I'll encounter as a new mama.

So maybe I'll never love toys―but I will always love spending time with my children. And with Lovevery's unique products, mixing those worlds has become child's play.


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

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One hour.

That's all this summer goal requires. It requires pretty much no planning or bucket list-making or thought, other than keeping your eyes open for opportunity. This hour will find you.

I figured out the impact of this hour when we spent last weekend at a water park while my son played lacrosse. Going back and forth from game to hotel water park all weekend left us feeling disjointed and exhausted. It was lots of fun, but I was just tired at the end of it. Every bone in my body couldn't wait to get home.

My kids, however, who can run all day and still not be tired, really wanted just one more hour in the water park. This meant I'd have to put on my bathing suit. We had to check out of our room, so if we stayed, we'd have to change in the damp, icky changing area. My hair would be wet. The water park was so loud. Not one thing about the idea of staying sounded appealing to me.

But still, they wanted to stay. They looked at us with hopeful eyes, begging for the fun to continue. Pretty much every other family was headed home. But we made a decision that changed how I am looking at my whole summer – and, really, how I'm looking at how my role as a parent.

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We stayed the extra hour. I am not exaggerating when I say it made all the difference.

I dug deep and decided I was going to be Fun Mom for an hour. I could have been Sit-in-a-chair-and-half-heartedly-watch-their-antics Mom for an hour, but I decided that would be a waste. If I wasn't going home, I was going to really be there for an hour. I was going to get my hair wet and not complain. For one hour, I was basically going to be a kid.

And it was So. Much. Fun.

I realized how important this hour was about 10 minutes in, when I found myself racing up the steps of the kiddie water slide area, chasing after Sam, plotting how I could adjust my way of sliding to finally beat him in our water slide race. I was ALL IN at that moment.

When I said I would slide with him, Sam's eyes lit right up and his little arms shot up in the air with a giant “YES!" He wanted to have fun with me. In that moment, I was not just Fun Mom. I was Fun Amy.

Having fun with your kids allows you to see them in a whole new light. I watched Sam use his God-given giant load of energy to run and run and run and embrace that hour, so much that I think he may be a fun genius.

I watched Kate fearlessly whip down water slides that made me scream like a baby. She held my hand. She was the one who was brave. She had no fear, and her fierce independence and determination made me feel lucky to be her friend for an hour.

I watched Thomas take Sam under his wing when it was his turn for slide races. I watched him teach Sam new water tricks and happily play in the kiddie area with reckless abandon, being kind and awesome to his brother at every turn.

I watched Ellie and Lily with their arms around each other, best friends for this sacred hour. I went down sides with each of them and floated through the lazy river as we all chatted, without a care in the world.

I held Todd's hand and rode down a slide with him in a double tube, just like in our dating days, our kids watching from behind, rolling their eyes with huge grins on their faces, hopefully seeing that marriage is more than making lunches and carting them around – that marriage is having actual fun with each other.

Spend the hour, my friends.

This hour reminded me how awesome it is to be the fun mom, to just be human with your kids. It reminded me how amazing it can be to say yes.

Sure, I could have used that hour to start on the massive pile of laundry we brought home. And full disclosure: We pushed ourselves to the point that there was plenty of super tired whining and complaining when we drove home. That hour could have saved us from having to stop for a little treat on the way home because now dinner was too far away. The house might have been cleaner and my people fed on time and in bed earlier had we not spent the hour.

But the laundry and the whining and the feeding of the people will always be there. That hour of fun was not only priceless. It was fleeting, like a feather in the wind we could catch if we tried. And we did.

Your hour may not be water park fun. This may sound like sheer torture to you. But your hour can be anything. And seriously, it's just an hour. We can do anything for an hour.

Thinking back, I remember my parents taking this same hour with us. My dad raced from roller coaster to roller coaster with my more adventurous siblings. My mom became more fun than any teenage shopping buddy we had. They spent the time. They took the hour. And we have amazing family memories because of it.

Life tries to drum that hour out of us. It tries to make us believe that getting stuff done is the ultimate prize. I am all for folded laundry and an empty sink and kids who are asleep at bedtime. But don't let life keep you from taking an hour here and there.

Find what you love, share it with your kids, say yes even when every bone in your old and weary body says no. Let your kids hear you scream like a kid going down a water slide. Get your hair wet. Eat ice cream for dinner. Play a family game of tag at the park as the sun goes down.

Show your kids you are more than a task master who cares too much about beds being made. Show them that you are not just the adult who wants them to entertain themselves at the water park while you sit in a hot tub (although I did that this weekend, too, and it was amazing).

Show them that family is fun, and that fun can actually come first. Show them the kid in you. It will bond you together in a whole new way.

Make it your goal this summer to take the hour. Those moments will make all the difference. And it's the moments that will change your family forever.

This post was originally published on Hiding in the Closet with Coffee.

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Breastfeeding is not easy. But neither is weaning. That's why this powerful photo from Brazilian mama Maya Vorderstrasse is going viral. Her husband captured the first time she ever breastfed their second daughter and next to it, almost two years later, the last time she fed their daughter from her breast.

And it's not just the photo that is powerful. In her caption Maya shares her emotional struggles with weaning and the tricks they used to make this transition easier for their youngest daughter. The caption reads:

"The first and last time my precious daughter ever nursed.

I didn't know that one person could feel so proud and so broken at the same time, right now I am a hormonal, emotional, and mental mess.

Raising my arm in this picture was very difficult for me as I had to fight through uncontrollable tears: this picture meant that I would never breastfeed my daughter ever again. I have been nursing for so long, that I don't know what it's like to not nurse anymore.



As I looked behind the camera, my husband is crying like I had never seen him cry before, like seriously, a deep gut cry. I was her comfort, her safe place, and I hope she still finds me that way. A month shy of 2 years old, she finally has a bed in a shared bedroom with her sister. We bought her her first bed, used any distraction we could come up with, snacks and new toys to keep her mind off of it.

My husband has taken over bedtime completely, including all nighttime wakings. We are on our third day, and every day gets a little bit easier. The guilt I feel for not putting her to bed is so intense and I can't wait to go back to it once she doesn't ask to nurse anymore. Closing a chapter is painful, but I am hopeful that this new season of our lives will also be special in its own way.

Through this maturation step she will not only grow more independent, but I will get a much needed break. She unlatched for the last time and sobbingly I said to my husband: "I did my best". He hugged me and responded with: "No. You did THE best, because you gave her your all". I love my family and am so thankful for such special and unforgettable moments like these. 💛

*my lazy boob has no clue about what's going on, but thoughts and prayers are accepted for my good one, I really think it might explode🤱🏻

**thank you to my husband, for insisting on filming this, I will treasure this forever.🤳🏼👩"

You've got this mama!

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If you're looking for basics for the kids for summer, you're in luck, mama. Primary clothes don't have logos or sparkles—they're classic prints and colors that can easily transition from one kid to the next. And this week, Primary is celebrating the new season with a major summer sale.

Items, like swimsuits, dresses, polos and more, are over 50% off. Most pieces are under $10 so you can stock up on an entire new wardrobe without breaking the budget.

Here's what we're adding to our carts—shop the entire sale here:

1. Baby rainbow stripe rash guard

With UPF 50, you can rest easy knowing baby has extra protection outdoors.

$14.50

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2. The track short

The easy pull-on waist will make outfit changes a breeze.

$10.50

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3. Rainbow stripe one-piece

Cute? Check. Will stay in place? Check. UPF 50? Check.

$18.00

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4. The short sleeve twirly dress

Made of 100% cotton jersey, this one will be a staple all summer long.

$10.00

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5. The polo babysuit

Perfect to dress up or down.

$8.00

SHOP

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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Being an adult is no joke. Beyond dressing ourselves and our kids and, ya know, feeding and bathing the family, there are so many other things that life throws at us. And because we're adults, we have to take care of these myriad to-dos. Welcome to: Adulting!

I'm not just talking about laundry, filling up the gas tank and stocking the fridge with groceries, but those tasks that always get pushed back. Getting life insurance. Refinancing your loan debt. (Students loans? Us, too.) Signing up for marriage counseling.

But guess what? These seemingly heavy-lift tasks are now a whole lot easier and faster to tackle. Here's how to check off your most tedious adulting chores.

The life insurance

When you're single with no descendants, life insurance might not seem like a top priority. But when you suddenly have a kid (or three), setting your family up for financial success is a must. And thanks to Ladder, obtaining a policy isn't the taxing, cringe-inducing process it used to be! It's modern and easy to use—seriously, you can even sign up for a policy from your phone or tablet. Ladder makes it possible to obtain a policy in under five minutes. Yes, really. See? No need to procrastinate!

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The student loan redux

You have the degree and the career and you also have the debt. And like us, you're likely just paying your monthly minimums without considering refinancing your student loans—because that sounds hard and complicated. Laurel Road simplifies the process. You can check your rates in only a few minutes (and don't worry, doing so won't impact to your credit score!).

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The marriage counselor

Did you know that 66% of couples report a drop in marital satisfaction when baby arrives? It's not surprising that an infant can cause stress for mama, but all that pressure can affect your relationship, too. Taking the time to really invest in marriage counseling often falls to the bottom of the to-do lists because of the many hurdles—finding a therapist, traveling to appointments, the cost of copays or out-of-pocket fees, the stigma around it all. With Lasting, however, you and your partner pair your apps and can begin working on your relationship together on your own timeline.

LEARN MORE

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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