The Fear Gene

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What is a Fear gene??

Every parent wants their child to inherit their good looks, their intelligence, this goes without saying. But ..Fear?? Certainly not!

Many parents may not even realize that they are unwillingly passing down their fears and anxieties- whether it is something tangible like aeroplane travel, dogs, heights, darkness or anxieties or something less concrete like money, social skills etc.

The Study on fear:

Many studies show that young children react to what their parents do and say. All early learning is based on the process of association and identification. Thus, as children are developing they are like behavioural sponges; associating and identifying all their experiences, programming their subconscious, internal computers, where their fears will reside. This learning occurs through parent’s verbal and non-verbal cues to their children.

As per Clinical Psychology :

While learning about different emotions I realized all my fears have been learnt through observation; it is purely observational learning.

My mother always used to make me sit on a tall chair whenever she used to work so that I wont disturb her. She used to talk with me, tell me stories while working and I used to enjoy it sitting on the chair.

Whenever I tried to jump down she used to scare me that I would fall down and get hurt if I tried jumping down. Unknowingly she created a huge fear in my mind.

I still think twice before going on any adventures which are associated with heights and the same goes for water. My mother is very scared of water and same has been imbibed on me. Whenever we go to any beach I enjoy the water but only when its of my knee height.

Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist and anxiety specialist cites an example that children may start to become apprehensive about dogs if their parents start telling them to avoid a park because dogs will be present, or if a parent behaves anxiously around dogs.

The best way to prevent children from inheriting their fears or phobias is for adults to acknowledge and evaluate their own fears. The children need to see that we are managing ourselves well, even if there is something to be anxious about.

Role of parents:

a. Sometimes parents realize their children have already picked up one of their fears. The sooner it can be recognized, the quicker it can be fixed

b. Parents need to help their children overcome the fears by looking for opportunities to take appropriate risks and have their children challenge themselves and their fears

c. Children might not succeed every time but they will at least try and it will help them with their self-esteem and develop courage

d. The golden rule of conquering fear, irrespective of age, is to slowly increase exposure, said clinical psychologist Francine Rosenberg

For eg: If they fear dogs. Look for a friend who has a dog and practice getting closer until the child or you pet the dog

Children are not a miniature version of their parents, they are separate beings

The parents must be emotionally separated from their children and  must see them objectively, so that they can help their children develop.


You can also read:

Lets make our children independent

The Enduring Importance Of Parental Involvement In Early Years Of Your Children”


Aditi Moghe

12 thoughts on “The Fear Gene”

  1. If your child develops a fear, as a parent don’t shame him about the fear or be dismissive, but validate the child’s experience and give words to his feelings so he can make sense of it and begin to manage the fear.
    As mentioned in this blog –
    The golden rule of conquering fear, irrespective of age, is to slowly increase exposure.

  2. Well drafted blog. Fear is one the emotions that can last long and turn into a phobia. As a parent and teacher we should use the above tips to help children overcome their fear.

    1. this thought never came to mind.
      Unknowingly we transit our fear to our child maybe in the form of care but we do it.
      For this EXPOSURE to fear is the key.
      Well drafter blog.
      An answer to many questions

  3. Very beautifully written blog. Fear is definitely imbibed in children through us adults. They observe and remember more than we can ever imagine. Hence we really need to be careful when we mention something we are scared of or something they shouldn’t be doing.

  4. Very well written
    Parents sometimes not even realize that they are unwillingly passing down their fear and anxieties .
    Young children react to what their parents do and say,their minds are like sponge.
    So parents above tips are really helpful.
    once you realize that the child get feared of something, you should help your child to overcome the fear by looking as an opportunity, accept the challenge and help the child to get rid from fear.
    Because fear is one of emotion and if we work on it in early age, give exposure to them they will automatically overcome from it

  5. Very well written blog on such an important topic. Children are born fearless so we being careful with them is important. Thankyou for sharing this blog.

  6. A masterpiece I must say! A child, when born, does not know all these emotions. We, adults, knowingly and unknowingly pass on such behavior patterns. Its very crucial to recognize this early and alter the pattern. Looking back, we realize we react to things in a certain way only coz someone who had influence on us did in a similar manner. We must ensure children pick u all the good habits from us. Beautifully written blog and on a topic which is very relevant.

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