Maudlin and Associates ™
Karen Maudlin
Psy.D., CPCC
Kenneth Davison
Cindy Takiguchi
Manette Galván Turner
Robert Gregory
Daniel Doebler
Trevor Simpson

"My daughter was stung by a bee last year and she is still so fearful that she cries whenever she sees a bee or any flying insect. How can I help her get past this irrational fear?"

A. To tackle this issue, start by validating your daughter's fear of bees without catering to it. Say something like, "I can understand that you are fearful of bees since you were stung last year, but it seems like the fear has grown. What do you think?" Let her know that you are concerned about her fear and that you want to work with her to get rid of it. Here are some ideas you can use as you work through this problem together:

Teach your daughter positive coping statements, such as, "I can deal with bees and get over my fear of them." She can say this to herself whenever she's in a situation where she feels her fear coming on. Have her practice these statements even if she doesn't quite believe them yet.

Identify her negative perceptions and challenge them. In her mind, the original incident might have seemed worse than it really was. Have her talk through what really happened and how she handled it. This helps her start dealing with facts rather than fears.

Ask her to recall times when she overcame something she didn't think she could. Maybe she mastered a difficult math concept or scored a soccer goal. Remind her that she can overcome this fear as well.

Teach her some simple breathing and relaxation techniques to calm herself down when she sees an insect. She can concentrate on breathing slowly or close her eyes and focus on relaxing her muscles.

Get a book on bee behavior and read it. Gaining a better understanding about insects can increase a person's sense of control around them.

Consider having someone capture a bee in a ventilated jar so that your daughter can study it for a little while in a safe context. Some experts believe this kind of exposure can reduce the feelings of fear.

Reward all her attempts to overcome her fear with plenty of praise. When she has a setback, let her know that's normal. When she has an especially successful day, such as getting through a school picnic without panicking, take her out for pizza or plan some other kind of celebration to mark her progress.