Children often fear about something and fear is an inescapable part of childhood. We all have gone through the fear and might remember those days of fear about something. Reasons for children fear could be many – rain, thunderstorm, darkness, masks, being alone, homework, a person, and many more. When fear overtake children, it is parent’s responsibility to understand help them to ease the fear, soothe and comfort child. In young children if not attended to the issues, fear can result in psychological problem and even might wet bed for many years. Help child to ease fear by addressing it.
- Make kids talk about the fear: Many times, kids will know what they are afraid but not might able to explain. Ask specific question about it. Observe and ask direct question like ‘are you afraid of darkness’, why are you afraid of dog, what makes you scared of the doctor etc. Some of the common fears in childhood are: darkness, being alone, dogs and other animals, insects (bugs), injections or shots, loud noises, imagination of someone under bed, someone’s tone etc. Once the child response, understand the situation and you will get an idea how to proceed.
- Give assurance: Once you understand what fear your child has, assure child that you will work with him to get over the fear. Talk about the fear and let child know that you are taking it seriously and will help. Don’t make fun of child’s fear. Instead, assure child that the fear can be overcome by acting on it. Assure child that you will work together to help child feel braver and child will be able to manage fear all by himself.
- Work with child: Experts say that you can set a reasonable goal to start. If child really needs to you to be there while going to bed, then set a goal of how many days you will be sitting with her and when she should try turning light off all by herself before going to bed. Give a week time and talk to through the steps you both will take to reach her goal. Plan steps like first day reading a book and turning off light, 2nd day reading book, turning light off and leaving the door slightly opened, 3rd day, turning light off and you being just in the outside after she falls asleep, leave light night on 4th day, closing door behind and you being outside her room, assure her that you will check on her and do so. This bring courage to child.
- Have patience: Changes takes time, if your child not ready, she or he might still show fear and the degree of fear may be less. Encourage and praise child’s progress. Say that you will be watching and go ahead. Encourage to stay few minutes in the room alone while you are outside. Lock all the windows in her presence. Your act gives the confidence in child ‘that nothing is going to happen, and my dad and mom is there for me’. Don’t give up on child. Younger children will take more time to show courage. If your child is still scared of neighbor dog, hold her finger while passing the dog. Encourage child to see the dog, talk to dog.
- All fears are different: If your child does not want to watch scary movies be it. It has nothing to do with daily life. If some fears do not interfere in child’s life, then it is okay and let them take their time to overcome. Psychologically, there is a limit for every kid’s capacity on facing things or watching things. It might take several years to overcome certain fears. As they grow, they will realize their limitations clearly and may not want to see such things at all and it is okay. If the child’s fear is something that must be taken care – for example visiting doctor for a shot or fear of going somewhere that is related to daily activities– then address it.
Teaching child how to manage fear and helping them to overcome fear by parental intervention is critical. If not addressed fears could result in disruptive behavior, panic attack or withdrawing from social life. When parents talk to kids about fear, they get the message that parents are always there on their side. It gives them courage to face the fear and overcome anxiety.
Author: Sumana Rao | Posted on: April 5, 2021