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One of my kids is extremely frightened of bugs. As in, if there's a fly/mosquito/bee in the room - far away from her - she will freeze up and refuse to move. If she's in small proximity, she gets uber-distressed and starts screaming.

She is OK with butterflies or small fruit flies though, and interestingly enough, is much more OK with spiders (she's not as spider friendly as my other kid or myself, but they don't send her into a screaming fit and she isn't scared to approach and look at an interesting spider).

Part of that is, IMHO, absorbed from her mother who's deathly afraid of pretty much any bugs. But she's clearly not simply aping her mom, because of aforementioned spider thing: mom is MORE afraid of spiders than any other bugs .

What are good approaches/strategies to lessen fear of insects in a child?

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We have two kids 4 and 2 and the 4 year old is very similar however does have arachnophobia. I have handled it by just educating my 4yold on all insects. We went to the library and found some great popup books (look for an insect book by Steve Jenkins, published by HMH) he does a great job illustrating the insects and creating a fun and interesting way to learn about them.

My 4yold even though still cautious around bugs, will see a spider and try to identify it. Now if a bee flies around her she comments about how it's looking for a flower to pollinate. I have found that most fears with my children, it all comes down to lack of knowledge. Giving them a way to understand the world and showing them how everything works not only helps in the phobias but also guides them in how to better understand what they don't through education and research.

This tool will become immensely powerful as they grow up and become adults.

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