Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Childhood Fears and Exposure to Violence

Childhood Fears and Exposure to Violence

Overview

Your child may seem anxious about everyday occurrences. School-age children usually are still dealing with a number of fears that first developed during their early childhood, such as fear of ghosts, of the dark, or even of dying. Every child's fears are different. Parents may not even recognize that some behaviors are based on fears (for example, when a child refuses to eat a food that is touching another food on the plate).

Children this age try to deal with, minimize, or possibly eliminate these fears. They battle fears by playing good-guy, bad-guy superheroes, by watching scary movies, and by acting tough and fearless. They may become fascinated by what they are afraid of and try to overcome their fear by becoming experts on the subject. For this reason, some children respond positively to detailed information about subjects that frighten them.

Other children may seek greater control over situations in response to fear. They may enjoy fantasy shows and books where the characters are extremely brave, smart, and clever or who have unusual powers. For example, they may be attracted to shows and books that feature boy and girl superheroes.

Usually children need more than assurance from their parents to overcome a fear (for example, that ghosts do not exist). Over time, most children accept the truth and let go of their fears.

Helping children deal with their fears about violence

Most children are exposed to violence on TV, in movies, and in other media. Some children even experience violence directly. Here are some ways you can help them deal with their fears.

  • Pick the right time to talk.

    Give children a way to express themselves. Make time so that conversations can be unhurried and relaxed. Don't start a conversation when your child is upset or highly emotional about an issue. Discussions can take place while walking home from school, at the dinner table, or at bedtime. Let children know that you are open to talking to them by being interested in what happens in their lives.

  • Let them tell you what they know.

    Build your conversation around their questions and what they know about an issue or event, not around what you know. Children don't understand violence in the same way that adults do.

  • Give reassurance.

    Reassure your children that they are safe. Children often think that the same scary thing will happen in their town or school or to themselves.

  • Let them learn from the experience.

    Give children a way to learn from what scares them. Bring up an example of how they or someone else solved a conflict without using violence.

  • Help them use activities to express feelings.

    Support children's efforts to work out scary news through play, drawing, or other activities.

How do children react to violence?

As a self-protection measure, your child may react in ways that concern you. Don't be alarmed by common reactions to violence, such as:

  • Ignoring the event or acting like they don't care.
  • Having a fascination with a violent event. For example, a child may want to continually talk about something violent and ask parents detailed questions.
  • Playing in violent ways, such as pounding an action figure on the floor. This behavior is a way that children work out issues. It is not a sign that they have violent tendencies.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Related Links

Child Safety: Guns and Firearms Helping Your Child Build Inner Strength Growth and Development, Ages 6 to 10 Years

<cipublic-spinner variant="large"><span>Loading…</span></cipublic-spinner>

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna

Audiences

Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

Cigna Company Information

About Cigna Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice [PDF] Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap

Disclaimer

Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities  that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from Cigna.com to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details