How can I help my toddler overcome a fear of bugs?
A fear of creepy crawly things is one of the most common fears among toddlers. What can you do to help your toddler conquer their fear of bugs?
I'm no expert, but I think that spending time outside and looking for bugs would be good. Also, with my 2 year old daughter, if there is a fly or some other bug that won't hurt her, I don't make a big deal about it, but just shoo it away. Today, we found a roly poly outside and I picked it up and told her that it doesn't hurt, it just tickles. She held out her hand and asked to hold it, but pulled her hand away right before I put it in her hand. She wasn't terrified of it, but just didn't want to hold it and that's okay. I think it's okay for kids to have a healthy fear of bugs and spiders until they know which ones won't hurt them. Also, kids go through phases. They can be afraid of something one day and then a week later, it won't bother them anymore. I wouldn't be too worried about it. It's normal to be scared of new things and almost everything is new when they're so young. It just takes some getting used to things and exploring sometimes before they can overcome a certain fear.
When they were really small I found that my attitude and methods for containing bug incursions into our living space were very much what they picked up on. I have willed myself to be calm and purposeful when spying and then removing when necessary whatever creatures come along.
Discussing how to safely handle things is not always easily done over ones own rising waves of panic over the size and hairyness of any particular thing. I have been amazed how that instinct to protect has given me the focus to face down some spiders in particular that I would not have had the courage for BC (before children). They come home from school with stories of creatures they've handled (no doubt loved to death on several occasions) and played with with friends or in science class. I find it is still important to continue to discuss and satisfy their endless curiosity about how, when and why any particular creature will sting, bite or otherwise harm us and how to handle them safely.
Fear isn't bad as long as it doesn't keep them from doing things outside. My now 16 year old was terrified of all bugs and especially bees when she was little. When she was 12 she was stung by a bee while playing softball. Her face turned red, she began wheezing and passed out. Within a day she had broken out in hives all over. Now she carries an epi-pen. Turns out she had a very good reason to be afraid of bees. I think it's good to have a healthy respect(fear) for things that could potentially harm us. As far as bugs we know are harmless, we have to set the example. If our kids see we are squeamish about bugs and spiders then they will react the same way we do. That's easier said than done though when you have a basement full of hobo spiders.
i'm one to completely and totally FREAK OUT over the smallest, big, bigger, and BIGGEST spiders. always have been, always will be i'm sure. they are my phobia. however, when i see one, and my daughter who is 3 typically spots things extremely quickly so she seems them first, she freaks out. i've learned to control myself over any fears i have, especially spiders (which people are very proud of me for doing so i may add). i think i have an out-of-body experience to take care of the situation by stomping on one, then stomping again, and again (which seems to amuse her) then i grab a handful of tissuepaper, and flush down the toilet (like i said it doesn't matter how big or small they are, if they aren't flushed, i believe they come back to life lol). after this all happens, and she has a look of what was that all about on her face i just say "see no big deal." (even though i've just had a heartattack lol) :-)
with wasps, which are bad in my area regardless of spraying, i've always told myself, and i tell her the same thing, that when one comes close to you, instead of getting scared and running, listen for its whereabouts so you know how close it remains, and close your eyes. if i can't see them, they can't see me. people think i'm crazy, but they don't bother me when i do this, and it has helped her to cope when we are outside and one buzzes by. wasps can sense fear from what i've learned, so doing this method and thinking that they cant see me, calms my nerves and anxiety of what pain could seriously be caused (ive been attacked by about 3 at once when i was little).
the best way to help your baby (i know, you're toddler but if you're like me, he/she is still you're baby) overcome the fear of bugs, is not to force them on the baby, but if you're outside playing, maybe mention something like "hey look at that cool looking bug!" and get excited about it (if it's not one to do serous harm of course). my daughter was terrified of one spec of dirt in her bath. i eventually had to just break it to her and say "you do realize that that came off you just now right?" she now will scoop what tiny particle of dirt there may be, into one of her cups she plays with in the bath, and simply put it on the side of the tub. being calm is the best cure for fear for your baby, this way he/she knows you are not affraid of anything, regardless of what it is, and they can come to you and have no worries (even if you are completely freaked out during a situation).
sorry this was so long. i've learned a lot from my 3 year old daughter by hiding my fear knowing that i have to be her protector (when daddy is at work anyways...otherwise i just calmly yell for him to come check this out, give him my freaked out look without my daughter seeing, and he takes care of it..hehe) hope that helped because that was a lot of typing i just did.
It's hard to teach my 2 yr old daughter about which bugs can bite or which ones are fine... mainly cause I hate any and all bugs. Fly's are typical and she knows they are alright, but when she sees me freak out over caterpillars or spiders... she just points to it n oo's and ahh's for a minute. Sometimes she will want to pick it up or she will totally go around it. But with toddlers, most of it is just curiosity, and they go with how we react to it.
i would love to read some answers on this. My little guy (3 in October) is kind of fearful of "little crawly" things as well.