Your 8 1/4-year-old: Fighting fears

Your 8 1/4-year-old: Fighting fears

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Your 8-year-old now

Just because he's no longer afraid of monsters in the closet doesn't mean that your child is over fear completely. Fears can persist right into adulthood.

The most common fears for 8-year-olds include fear of injury, kidnapping, and natural disasters (tornadoes, floods). Fears about global warming and running out of natural resources are recent additions to this list.

Why these particular fears? They all reflect a child's growing understanding of the world. All of these things are real events that do happen to people – and that get a lot of play in the news. Because your child is still somewhat egocentric, the natural progression is to think, "This could happen to me."

You can help protect your child from fear by anticipating it. Limit the amount of news your child is exposed to. But do talk about these issues. Stress that disasters are rare events and explain how far away certain incidents are from you.

Arm your child with basic safety information: For example, if fear of "bad men" is on his mind, teach him a few simple rules about safety around strangers. Explain your own family's safety precautions and disaster preparedness (using the locks on the doors, keeping extra water and other supplies in case of an earthquake). Run a family fire drill. Show him how to be realistic but practical.

Your life now

Your child is capable of getting together everything he needs for his day pack: papers, books, an extra sweater, lunchbox, show-and-tell item, and so on. But you're not off the hook altogether: He may still need you to double-check his efforts.

You'll also want to help him empty the pack at day's end. You don't want to miss any important permission slips to sign – or have any tuna sandwiches left in the pack overnight.

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