Q. My sons are 8 and 10 and seem excessively frightened of insects.
A. Most children have had the unpleasant experience of being stung. Insects can be unsettling, especially at night when children tend to be worried and frightened by the dark.
Your children have reached an age when they may be somewhat skeptical of your reassurances and need to find things out for themselves. Study insects with your children. Good books at their reading levels are available. Science centers and museums of natural history usually have excellent displays with explanations. Some even offer short courses. When your children know enough about insects to appreciate them, they will gain control over their fears.
Dr. Wilson is director of general pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center; Dr. Joffe is director of adolescent medicine.