Child's Fear of Flying

Archived Q&A and Reviews


5-year-old's fear of flying

Nov 2006

My 5 year old son has a tendency towards anxiety, especially under times of transition or stress, and about a year ago when we were travelling he kind of freaked out on the airplane, saying ''We're going to fall down! Stop the plane! We have to get off!! We made it through that trip but needless to say it was a pretty stressful experience.

Now it has been over a year since we last flew, and we are going to the East Coast for the Holidays, and he is adamant that he doesn't want to go and is afraid of flying. I have consulted with our health plan's mental health division but they may not even be able to see him before we leave, and I am not convinced that would help. I am worried that he will panic again and refuse to get on the plane. We have offered all sorts of incentives, and are planning to have a portable DVD player for the flight, since individual video screens seemed to help last year, but I am interested in any other suggestions this group might have. Thank You! Worried mama of worrier

This may not work with a 5 year old, but thought I'd tell you my experience in case it helps later. I also was afraid of flying as a child and when I was probably in my early teens my parents drew a diagram and explained the basic principles behind WHY a plane stays aloft. That made a huge difference for me, knowing why we weren't going to fall out of the sky. Hope that's helpful at some point Now a happy and frequent flier

We recently took a plane trip with our 5-year-old, who has flown many times before, without event, but suddenly on this trip he was extremely worried and anxious. He told us he was very afraid to get on the plane. Finally he told us the thing he was worried about was his ears popping, which he had heard was a problem for children on planes. It turned out that he thought that his ears would literally pop, like a balloon. I tried to explain about altitude and pressure but he wasn't buying it. Finally I told him that chewing gum keeps your ears from popping, and he cheered up immediately. He is never allowed gum, so it was a huge treat. I told him he should start chewing when the plane started moving, and that would keep his ears from popping. Everything went great. He told us after the flight, Hey! It really worked! The moral of the story is that when they say they are afraid, they may be afraid of something that never occurred to you. Also, it is worth it to forbid certain things like gum so you can use it later for this type of situation. GO