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Learning Laboratory: Overcoming Bug Phobias

Looking for ants

My kids are slowly, but surely, overcoming their bug phobias! Here are a few things that have helped:

  • Letting them wear protective gear – like my gardening gloves on Emma, above.
  • Encouraging natural curiosity – even when it means they dig up part of the sidewalk searching for ants.
  • Examining bugs with them.
  • Borrowing lots of bug books from the library.
  • Spending time outside with them, with bugs around. Eating dinner and playing structured games outside is especially helpful – they have something to focus on other than the bugs.

Do you have kids with bug phobias? How have you coped?

learning laboratory at mama smiles

Learning Laboratory is a space to share hands-on, fun, and creative learning activities! Linking back through either my button or a text link is always appreciated! Here are a few of my favorite posts that were linked up last week:

MaryAnne lives is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

29 thoughts on “Learning Laboratory: Overcoming Bug Phobias”

  1. All three of mine are afraid of bugs. Haven’t really found anything to help yet. Just last night, Christian was shucking an ear of sweet corn to feed her rabbit, when she freaked out over a silkworm!

  2. This is great. No real phobias here as long as the bugs stay outside! Great picture – too funny about Emma’s gloves.

  3. my twin 3 year old girls had a crazy bug phobia this spring, screaming and panicking to the point that they were hyperventilating. My husband decided to get an ant farm and it worked like magic!

  4. My kids like bugs too much. My daughter is always trying to pick up bugs and sometimes she is too brave for her own good. My eldest daughter even ate an ant before! I prefer that my children have a healthy fear of bugs. Maybe I need to create a little phobia in them. Lol.

  5. Those sound like really great ways to overcome bug phobias. There’s certain bugs the kids don’t like (mosquito eaters and june bugs) but after living in Africa, they love lizards. They would hold a lizard any day!

  6. I have a bug phobia! Abby does pretty good, unless a wasp or bee is chasing her. I don’t blame her for that though.

  7. Hmm, my girls don’t have any bug phobias as of yet, but mommy sure does lol. I am terrified of bees. It is quite sill really. I really don’t want to pass on my absurd fear to my girls. Guess it is time to start working towards overcoming it. :)

    1. I’ve gotten less terrified, trying to help my kids cope. Still not a fan, though!

  8. These are great ideas and could be adapted for other phobias and uncertain explorations. Sorry my link should say favourite summer books. Thanks for hosting Learning Laboratory! :)

  9. We are not afraid of bugs, but I am so glad you posted this. Bugs are living creatures, just like any other. I tell my children that when we are outside, we must be kind to bugs. We are in their house when we outside. In our house, well, that’s another story…. :)

  10. I have the opposite problem with my youngest who has been stung a number of times and still finds it hard not to pick up every bug she sees. I’ve been trying to teach her to ask me if a bug can hurt her or not before she picks it up. We have a set of insect cards and she is starting to learn what is safe and what is not. I think your activities for bug phobias are great. My kids love going on bug hunts with their magnifying glasses – especially to look for millipedes and snails after a rain.

    1. I was just talking to my sister today, and she has a similar problem with her son! Magnifying glasses are such a fun way to enjoy insects!

  11. Mine love the bugs but I wish I could overcome my bug phobia. I don’t really like the creepy crawlies they bring to show me! I love the gloves that your little Emma is wearing!!

    1. Those gloves are awesome, we found them at Costco :)

      My kids come by their bug phobia naturally, so getting over it is good for me, too!

    1. I would have a hard time with kids squishing worms. But at least they aren’t afraid of them!

  12. Elisa | blissfulE

    Michael is quite concerned about spiders and mosquitos. I think this is because both live in and around our outside toilet. I’ve tried to explain that the spiders are the good guys who eat the mosquitos (mozzies do seem to prefer the taste of Michael over the rest of us). However, I can’t blame him for feeling scared when he’s stuck on the toilet and can’t run away. So now his sisters use the outside toilet and Michael uses the inside toilet whenever possible. When Michael does need to use the outside toilet for whatever reason, one of us will “watch over” him and see to it that the spiders don’t sneak up on him.

    Before my children were born, an English friend with a severe spider phobia (all the nursery rhymes featuring spiders made a LOT more sense to me after living in England for a while) advised that parents should be very bold in dealing with bugs in front of the child, as her husband is in front of their children, and I have tried to follow that advice. I nonchalantly (but quickly!) crush the undesirables like poisonous spiders and cockroaches when I’m in charge of the kids, although privately it sometimes takes me a while to recover from those encounters.

    Any bugs that aren’t harmful (like long-legged spiders or ants – we don’t have biting ants here) don’t bother me at all, and I model that for my kids. We haven’t done much studying of bugs because enlarged pictures WOULD creep me out.

  13. Excellent timing as my 2 year old suddenly started screaming his head off whenever he sees a fly or bee or bug whereas he loved spiders so much up until recently. Will check out the books about bugs.

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