16 answers

Child Suddenly Afraid of Bugs

My 3 year old daughter is suddenly terrified of bugs. She thinks that they are everywhere and will not enter a room without asking "are there bugs in there?" We always see a few ants in the house in the spring, we told her they wont hurt her and we will take care of them. I took her to a playground yesterday, she has always loved the outdoors, but she was paralyzed with a fear that there would be bugs on the slide, bugs on the jungle gym, bugs on the swings. This completely hindered her play and it was very sad because she was the most carefree FEARLESS child in the world before and I want her to have fun again. This is probably one of those short lived phases but if not, I would appreciate any advice you may have on how to address her fears and help her overcome and have fun again. I looked for books but what I saw didnt help, the books portrayed big scary bugs etc. Thanks in advance.

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I have an almost 4 yr old who last summer was afraid too. She would stay inside rather than playing out. She got over it quickly(a few weeks).I have an idea that may work. Go to Walmart, or whatever toy store, and look for a bug lamp. Its called Backyard Safari. It magnifies bugs, and has a light. Try making it fun, maybe she'll see they're not so scary.
Good luck - these stages can be tricky! :)

1 mom found this helpful

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I have an almost 4 yr old who last summer was afraid too. She would stay inside rather than playing out. She got over it quickly(a few weeks).I have an idea that may work. Go to Walmart, or whatever toy store, and look for a bug lamp. Its called Backyard Safari. It magnifies bugs, and has a light. Try making it fun, maybe she'll see they're not so scary.
Good luck - these stages can be tricky! :)

1 mom found this helpful

The age is different, but two summers ago my then 5yo who LOVES the outdoors and bugs, was suddenly afraid of bees. He wouldn't go out in the front yard, he didn't want to go to the park, etc. Fortunately it was just a phase, but it was frustrating while it was happening. We didn't push him too much and just tried to be understanding.
(Also at the same time he became afraid of elevators, and freaked out when he had to go in them, he grew out of that one too)
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hey! I'm 52 and sometimes I too want to know if there are any bugs when I enter a room!

On the serious side, my daughters all went through some phase like that. They are waiting for our reaction. Just stay calm and matter of fact and this too shall pass!

1 mom found this helpful

Dear D.,
My two grand daughters are the same way. They make little bug hunting kits for kids ( even Walmart has them ). It makes it fun. It's a little plastic cage so Mom or Dad can put in a beetle, butterfly etc. and the kids can watch them, look at them with a magnifying glass etc. without having to touch them. There are also some kits through school catalogs, science magazines etc. that send you caterpillars and the set up for their "house". The caterpillars make their cocoons and when they come out, are pretty orange "Painted Lady" butterflies that you can feed with sugar water for at least a few days before turning loose. Hope it helps. L. L.

I have zero advice, because I could have written your exact post. I just wanted you to know that you aren't alone. The only thing that seemed to help was once I caught a fly (that she was seriously freaking out about) in a cup and released it outside. She seemed comforted by the fact that I could touch it without losing a limb or something! Good luck!

My 2.5 year old is doing the same thing with pumpkin bugs and lady bugs. We have an old house and now that its getting warmer they are hatching. She too has been a fearless toddler, but for the past few weeks shes been terrified of bugs. We talk about it when she sees them and over the past week or so its begun to wane. I do think its just a phase. If you are looking for a safe happy bug book, try the David Kirk series about Sunny Patch and Miss Spider. When she gets upset about a bug we talk about sunnypatch and all the friendly bugs and it does help. If you get Noggin there is also a very gentle animated series of the stories. I myself am terrified of spiders and dont want to pass that along to her so I've made an extra effort to show how harmless most bugs are.
Hope this phase passes soon for your daughter.

The only other advice I can offer is, did she someone get hurt by a bug or was she hurt herself? My boys were completely fine outside until they got stung by a bee and then the rest of the summer they refused to even go outside because they could see things flying out there (mainly dragonflies). So far this spring they are doing ok and I just keep reminding them that if you leave them alone, they will leave you alone. It just happened that they had come across a rather large nest last year that they got stung. And advice for bees in particular. NO sudden movements if they are near enough to you. My dad raised honey bees for a few years when I was younger. I know the first reaction is to swat at it, and that is the worst thing to do. Good luck!

Hi D.!
My first thought would be to knowledge your daughter in a fun way about bugs. I'm not sure if you have a nature center or a museum near you that you could bring her to so she could see them in a "controlled" enviroment. This would allow her to learn what the bugs do and how they are not out to hurt her. My nephew just went through a monster thing and being the same age as your daughter it was just a passing phase since their imaginations are just running wild now. Good luck with the bugs!


My daughter never went through that phase, however, I did as a child--in particular ants terrified me. My mother bought me the book Andy Ant, and afterwards I was fascinated rather than scared. I wish I could remember the author, but I'm sure it shouldn't be too hard to find online or at a bookstore. Good luck!

My daughter too was extremely afraid of bugs. One day she wasn't and the next she got a bug on her at school and from then started freaking out at each bug she saw. She would scream and take a fit. I made it out to be not a big thing. I didn't get upset when she was afraid, I didn't freak out and yell at her when she screamed. i tried to say that bugs were not anything to be afraid of and make it out so that it would be a non issue. Not so much of ignoring her but just non challantly (sp?) saying oh and going on with whatever we were doing. we then moved into a basement apt. which had spiders some very big. I explained calmly to her that spiders eat bad bugs and keep us safe. she accepted this and has slowly gone from being afraid to being somewhat interested. Of course she is still startled at first but I don't freak out and just say what kind of bug it is and if it is ok to look at or to leave it alone. A funny story... she has gotten into hugiing things and asking if some particular thing likes hugs. well she asked me if bees liked hugs. I laughed very hard and in a kind but firm way said No bees don't like hugs and if you see one just leave it alone. She asked why and I said that bees can get angry easily so if she saw one to leave it alone and go the other way. Oh if you are afraid of bugs yourself don't ever let her see you freak out because then she will see that big strong Mommy/Daddy is afraid so I should too and she will probably freak out even more. I hope this helps. Good luck

Unfortunately I dont have any real advice, but do you think someone could have told her she couldnt do something or touch or use something becasue bugs were there? Maybe someone scared her and you should approach it as a real fear and not a phase????

Good Luck :)

Hi D.,
Empower your little sweetie to make the "bugs" go away on her own. Before she goes into a situation where she thinks there might be bugs have her say something like.."OK bugs, I'm coming in and you have to leave now because I don't want you to scare me." Wait a few minutes for all the bugs to leave and then go in. Put the power and control in her hands. If you turn it into a game the bugs become a little less scary if she knows she is in control instead of the bugs. She might also like to know that bugs might be afraid of her too. Coming at it from that perspective might be helpful as well.

My daughter did the same thing at the same age. We had big black carpenter ants, and gnats...she was TERRIFIED of them, after being BUG GIRL before that. LOL! After a while, I told her that Carpenter ants eat wood. "Yea?" she said. I answered, "...are you made of wood?" She laughed and said, "NO, Momma!", and I said, "Well, then you don't have anything to worry about!". :) She's okay with them now - tho, I still can't convince her that gnats can't bite. She knows that some flies can, and to her, a gnat is just a little fly. :)

I guess I'm just saying that it IS a phase, and it's one you will have to wait out. She'll get over it quicker if her feelings are honored, in my opinion; I got my daughter a GORGEOUS book about beetles - very colorful - and that helped her get "into" a different bug.

Good luck!

I used to teach at a day care/preschool, and one of the 4 year olds went through the same phase. One day he was fine, the next he would not go outside without freaking out. Even a breeze from the wind sometimes set him off. At first we just let him stay inside, then we made him come out, but he could stand with one of us (usually he held on). His mom (who wasn't a big fan of bugs) started to pause as they went into the house and point out ants and such, and let them crawl on her. He slowly got over it. But like I said, nothing in particular triggered it.

My daughter who is 6 now went through the same phase around three. She is a sweet and gentle girl, but we empowered her and taught her to "have words" with the bugs. I remember her standing in the corner of the kitchen one day with the most stern voice telling a spider that this was her kitchen and it wasn't welcome here. I still smile remembering her "words" with the bugs. It was a phase for her and went away when she felt like she was the boss of the bug world. Now she's outside catching salamanders and bringing home snakes and frogs...how things change!

you can try to sprinkle glitter in her room as "bug repellant", but tell her it only works on the bad bugs, the good bugs are ok. ladybugs and caterpillars are a good place to start on good bugs.

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