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How do “scary” stories help children grow?

Wolves, witches, ogres, monsters… “scary” stories have been appealing to children since the beginning of time.

Who doesn’t remember Little Thumb and his brothers, abandoned in a forest by their parents? or the big bad wolf who wants to devour Little Red Riding Hood? or the Ugly Duckling rejected by his own family?

All the great classics of children’s literature are scary. So why do we read them these stories? The answer is simple: fear is necessary for a child’s development because it is an ally of the survival instinct. Indeed, even in situations of extreme fear, the stories show that everything is always possible, that there are solutions, that there is always a way to survive, to rely on others.

Scary books help children to overcome an unthinkable situation and help them to grow gradually, to face their fears, to nourish and consolidate their self-esteem.


There are different types of fear in children: the fear of being alone, of death, of losing the love of parents, of abandonment, rejection, separation…

If the child is afraid, there is always a reason, but he or she is not always able to formulate it on their own. It is therefore necessary to talk about it to help him identify it and reassure him. It is very important to put words to it, otherwise the child thinks the parents are afraid to talk about it. And it’s even more distressing for him. Because if even the parent, so big, so strong, is afraid to talk about something, it means that the danger is real.

To summarize, putting words to the different anxieties, in a way that is adapted to the child’s age, allows the child to overcome them. Not talking about them means passing them on.


If the child needs to read the same story over and over again, it is because he is working on himself and trying to tame his fear. The story indirectly shows him that he is not alone in this fear, and that no matter what the fear, there is a way to overcome it and triumph.

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