It isn’t uncommon for children or adults to display a fear of birds.
In fact children between the ages of 3-5 years can be particularly scared as it is around this age they believe they have a heightened imagination and a understanding of what could go wrong.
Growing up I always loved going down to our family holiday house and waiting for the beautiful King Parrots to grace us with their presence. They were a highlight of our visit. I’d sit patiently at the backyard with a fist full of seed and my eyes fixed to the sky. Then after a few loud squarks they’d be quite literally eating out of my hand.
I never had reason to fear them, however, I can see how some would. Birds can be seen as an ‘enemy’ almost and the flapping wings and sharp beak can all be considered good reasons to fear them. But the truth is they are not to be feared because very rarely would they intend to cause harm.
Here is a picture of my niece. She loves birds but from afar. When the opportunity came for her to feed birds she was quick to decline. We took a few steps in building her confidence and before you knew it she was happily feeding birds.
Here are a few things I think should be considered when you have a child who fears birds.
- Acknowledge the Fear – Children need to know you understand they have a fear and what that fear is. By saying something like ‘I can see your scared of these birds’… can help a child feel heard and that their feelings are understood.
- Never ignore or shut down the fear – Children don’t need to be made to feel silly for how they feel and so comments such as, ‘ You’re being silly’ are not helpful.
- Display a confident attitude to the child – Be a good role model for that child and show them they can trust you. For example a comment such as, “I see your scared but I will not let a bird cause you any harm”.
- Take your time – Don’t expect a child to go from fearing a bird to feeding it. They might simply progress towards overcoming their fear by describing the bird(s) and what they like about it.
It is with these few suggestions you can help a child overcome their fear of birds.
If you’d like to hear about another mum’s experience of her child fearing birds and what she did to help her then please visit Wildlife Fun 4 Kids.