Summer is here! That means picnics, pools, and play-time for you and your little ones. It’s a time of freedom to spend your days under the sun, however, the bugs think so too. While summer time is one of the most enjoyable seasons for kids and teens, a fear of bugs can make a summer of fun into a summer of none. Here are five tips to help your kids and teens conquer their fears of critters who inhabit the summer season:
1) Talk to your child about bugs. Get on your child’s level and understand what worries them about bugs. This demonstrates that you care and that their concerns are important to you. It also demonstrates a desire to learn more about them; fears and all. Your communication is key. If you maintain a positive, and calm demeanor while discussing bugs, it sends the message that bugs are not so bad. By getting to know your child’s fears more specifically, you can strike up a conversation about bugs, and educate them as to why certain facets of their fear may not be so scary at all. Talk about the life of bugs, what different kinds of bugs there are, and what functions bugs hold such as, finding food, building homes, and taking care of their babies just like people do!
2) Start small and be patient. Take baby steps when addressing your child’s fear. We all know fears do not disappear overnight, so go slow and remember that even small progress is still progress. Instead of getting frustrated by your child’s fear, develop a comforting, reassuring, and supportive attitude. Be your child’s cheerleader and celebrate the small victories along the way. This will not only help to extinguish their fear, it will encourage them and build their self-esteem- they will feel empowered to know that they are capable of facing their fears.
3) Read books or do an activity all about bugs. Take a trip to your local library or visit your favorite book store (or eBook for those of you who are technologically savvy). Find the most child-friendly, educational books that will intrigue their imagination about bugs. There are books on just about every bug out there, so begin by selecting books with “less scary” bugs in it, like butterflies and ladybugs, working up to books with spiders and bees in them. You can also engage your child in drawing pictures of bugs while discussing the differences among bugs at the same time. Some conversation starters might be, “Butterflies have big, beautiful wings to fly high,” or “Bees love flowers and use the pollen to make us yummy honey.” Show them that bugs are not scary and teach them how they contribute to the world. Find quiet time each day to sit down with your child and learn about the interesting life of bugs. This also provides you and your child with some extra quality time together. Bonus!
4) Make it a game! Games and play are what kids know best, so why not use the opportunity to learn about bugs and make it fun at the same time? Go outside and see how many bugs you both can identify. Search for bugs in your garden, or in the yard, and do not forget to count the bugs that fly around in the sky. Replace feelings of worry and fear, with curiosity, fun, and excitement.
5) Lead by example. Make sure to watch your own reactions to bugs. While this may not be your most favorite tip of the bunch, your reactions matter. Your child looks to you on how to respond to potentially scary situations. You are their model and if you scream, swat, and squash every bug you encounter, chances are they will learn to do the same and associate bugs and fear. Choose to be your child’s champion of bugs, not their ally in worrying about bugs. Tackling bug fears can be educational and fun all at once. Consider ways to introduce your child to bugs in ways that are non-threatening and enjoyable for them. Be a part of the process and reassure them that bugs are living, breathing creatures just like us, and help them cherish and love nature for all that it is.
Get outside and enjoy the great outdoors!