Note to Reader: As adults we often forget to see things from a child’s perspective. I knew a child that heard her dad might get fired..for months she was fearful that he was going to catch on fire.( I can’t make this stuff up.) Much fear can be alleviated by discussing a reasonable outcome with children. Children do not understand adult situations and should be reminded that above all they are safe and loved. Daddy might get fired which means he might lose his job. If dad were to lose his job we will do A,B, and C and we will be fine. I love these gentle and stress free tips from Jean!
by Jean Tracy, MSS
Fears paralyze children. If your child has one fear or many, keep reading. Find out what you can do.
Fear in children is normal. But when your child surrenders to imagined fears, you need to help.
How Kids’ Normal Fears Become Stressful Fears:
- Fear of the dark
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of failure
- Fear of unpopularity
- Fear of bugs
Even though these fears don’t physically harm kids, they can balloon into emotional stress. When kids (and adults) feed these fears by imagining the worst over and over again, they believe them. This is stress.
How Some Fears Start:
Let’s say Max, the neighbor boy, loves to scare your son, Brent. Beetles are Max’s weapon of choice. Black beetles with hard shiny backs and fast crawling legs. Max calls out, “Hey, Brent, come here!” He tosses the beetle at Brent.
Brent runs home screaming. Max laughs and yells, “You big baby!” Brent’s fear of beetles, bugs, and spiders has just begun. What can you do?
5 Parenting Tips for Helping Your Child Overcome Fear:
- Be patient. Like parents of children who fear the dark, you must take tiny steps. Don’t push your child to race beyond his courage. Go slow. Do the following activities on different days.
- Draw the fear. Tell Brent, “Let’s draw bugs together.” Congratulate him. Touch the bugs in his drawings. Ask him if anything happened when you touched them? Then ask him to touch the bugs. Congratulate him again.
- Read about bugs together. When you’re done reading, ask Brent to touch the pictures of the realistic bugs in the book. Don’t push him. If he touches them, congratulate him for being brave.
- Find some real bugs to examine. Ask Brent, “What do you notice about these bugs? Do you think they are afraid of you? Who’s bigger?” Check out more bugs too.
- Pick up a harmless looking bug. Ask Brent if he’d like to hold it too. Congratulate him when he does.
Brent may never like bugs. But because you helped him overcome his fear, he will tolerate them. He won’t be called a “Baby!” He won’t run home screaming either.
Conclusion for Helping Your Child Overcome Fear:
- Be patient.
- Take tiny steps.
- Find out your child’s raw spots.
- Find out how the fear started.
- Find out what truly upsets him.
- Learn what he thinks is the worst thing that will happen.
Then ask yourself, ‘How can I create tiny steps to help him “see” for himself the fear is harmless?’ This is your power and your privilege. You can give your child the courage to see through his fears.
Fears often grows with negative self talk. Children can use positive statements to undo negative fear based thoughts and chatter. The Indigo Dreams CD series all include a story that introduces children to positive statements or affirmations.