Overcoming fear: How we can help our preschoolers be brave

Zofishan Umair
Zofishan Umair
Zofishan is a journalist, humour columnist, and a mum who has survived nappy explosions mid-air. She has over a decade of experience writing for print and online publications and is currently working on her first book.
Created on Oct 30, 2023 · 5 mins read

There are two types of children in this world: the first are those who leap off sofas first and consider the consequences of their actions second.

Will it hurt? Well, we’ll just figure it out AFTER we land head-first on the cat, and let mum or dad handle the nosebleed that follows. YOLO, right? 

This is the kind of kid who will most likely try to eat a bug or lick the frozen metal pole just to satisfy his curiosity.

The second type is the careful kind.

They are the ones who will stay a foot away from the edge of the pool and will hide behind you when a stranger approaches. They might look up from their spot to make sure you are still there or check in with you before doing something like going to the bathroom.

These kids are great. For one, you know that if you don’t hear from them for more than 2 minutes, they’re probably in some quiet corner pondering over problems instead of finding new ways to burn the house down like the first type.

And while it does make parenting easy in some aspects, it makes it challenging in others.

As a parent, you have to rein in the daring offspring, but also push your meekest child to take a few risks and overcome his fears. And sometimes, just sometimes, your kid may need a little bit of both.

Whether your preschooler needs a little extra nudge to make a new friend at his preschool or learn to be brave as you pass the neighbour’s giant dog, these little tips and tricks can help them be their bravest selves.

1. Acknowledge their fear

We’re all afraid of something, and so are our children. And getting over that fear is an important part of a child’s development. Because with fear in the driving seat, your child is just holding himself back and letting that emotion make decisions for them.

This is why acknowledging this fear is the first step in helping your child overcome it.

Skip the part where you say, ‘Oh, but that’s nothing to be afraid of.’

Instead, say something like, “It’s okay to be scared of _____, but let’s figure out how we can be brave instead.”

2. Discuss how someone can be brave

Bravery isn’t just leaping into the pool or petting that giant dog. Fear for your preschooler can mean anything from the monster under their bed to speaking up in class.

Talking about their fear and how to overcome challenges is important for them.

Not sure how or where to start that conversation?

Well, it’s PAW Patrol to your rescue. Your preschooler is probably familiar (aka obsessed) with them, so this is a great place to start! These tiny pups aren’t big and don’t have superpowers, but they’re definitely brave and always ready to help. In one of the episodes, “Pups Save a Toof,” Ryder and the pups admit to being scared at times—and of different things.

In fact, Ryder is scared of brussel sprouts, while Chase is actually afraid of the dentist, but they decide to be brave and face their fears.

You can also use the Chase figure from this PAW Patrol Adventure Bay Lookout Tower and create scenarios where you turn off-duty Chase into Hero-Pup Chase who learns to be brave.

3. Monkey see, monkey do

Kids won’t do what you tell them to do, but they will repeat what they see you do. So if you are using your phone during dinner, expect them to scream for screen time too.

And if they see you overcome your fears, they’ll know how they can be brave too.

Even a teeny tiny spider in the bathroom could be a great time to put on that cape, be brave, and really just show ‘em how it’s done!

You could talk about your emotions and admit that yes, you are afraid of the spider. It’s big and icky, but it needs your help, so you must be brave.

“Oh, that’s a big spider. To be honest, I’m scared, but the little guy needs my help, so I’ll be as brave as I can.”

Then muster the courage and capture that spider in a jar before releasing it into the wild.

Be sure to make it fun and silly at the same time. Laugh when the spider jumps, and if your preschooler is up for it, ask him to help in grabbing supplies or even opening the door or a window as you set your spider free.

4. Be brave through imaginative play

Don’t have a spider crawling in your bathroom? Bummer.

Or maybe YOU aren’t ready to face your spider phobia just yet. (Hey, we’re not judging.)

You can still teach your child to be brave through pretend play, and a great toy to start with is the PAW Patrol Adventure Bay Lookout Tower.

The playset includes an incredible 50cm-tall lookout tower, three double-sided mission cards so you and your preschooler can choose from 6 different missions, and even a police cruiser to save the day! It’s the ideal toy to help your preschooler learn to understand and communicate their feelings by reenacting adventures.

The PAW Patrol Adventure Bay Lookout Tower is also compatible with other Paw Patrol Pup vehicles.

Oh, and a 101 on Paw Patrol pups: Rocky is afraid of water, Rubble is terrified of spiders, Marshall is scared of flying, and last but not least, Skye is frightened of eagles.

Allow them to play for hours so they can feel brave and create their own adventures. In fact, get down on your belly and drop in for a few of your own…then go find a spider and show him who’s boss.

This is a paid partnership between Kiindred and PAW Patrol.

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