Everything You Need To Know About Helping Your Child Overcome Fear
Every human being feels fear, though showing or not showing it is another matter altogether. But children tend to get scared quite easily. And with them it takes different shapes and forms, changing every now and again. Fear is different from phobias. And for parents, it is important to make this distinction. Phobia is more permanent, unreasonable, more excessive and out of hand than fear. This distinction will help you determine how to remove fear from your child's mind.
The following are fears that are common with children.
- Children are often afraid of the dark
- They fear noises that occur at night
- Sometimes, they have a fear of movie characters
- The fear of dogs
- Being alone at home is also a common fear
- Fear of injections or medications
- The fear of failing
Below are a few steps to follow so that you can help your child with their fears.
- Understanding your child's fears.
This is the first step to helping the child overcome his or her fears. You have to understand something before tackling it. This ensures you do it effectively. And for children, fear can easily form from anything. They are still learning to interpret the world and the images that come with it. Throw in their imagination and they can easily begin to imagine something like a monster trying to grab them in the dark. Thus, understanding your child's peculiar fear will provide a solid ground from which you can help.
- Speak to your child
Taking to the child is important. Make the child comfortable to talk about his or her fears. Plus, this is an avenue to ask the child what forms their fears take. Why he or she is afraid of such a thing and how it all feels. Give the child all the attention you can summon, and assure them that it's normal to be afraid. You have been there, too.
- Don't make the child do something he or she fears
This might seem like it makes sense on the surface but it doesn't. You might think that forcing the child to do those things they fear will force the fear out of them. This is simply not the case. Forcing the child will only make him or her even more fearful. Allow the child time to adjust and overcome. Imagine that you fear dogs and someone forces you to hold a dog. How would you react?
- Show and don't just tell
You're trying to banish your child's fears and it would really help by way of teaching to model braveness yourself. Children pick things up from their parents easily. If you act out in fear when something happens, your child is most likely going to be afraid. But if you model calm, it sends a message to the child that he or she is safe.
- Holding your child's hand
Fear in children usually manifests in different but specific forms. Some kids are afraid of the dark, or something under the bed. Without pressure or mockery, offer to walk them to the thing they fear. Stay with the child. You may use a flashlight to illuminate and check out that place that is making them scared. You must do all of these without judgement.
- Keep anticipatory time brief
As already established, most children fear something specifically. The child is even more afraid just before the time he has to go through those fears. For example, if the child fears going to bed and sleeping alone, don't bring up the talk three or four hours before bedtime. That would only make the child go through a four hour period of anxiety. So you want to keep that period short if you must talk about his or her fears.
- Use humour to diffuse the fear
This works when you know exactly what it is the child is afraid of. Then you can find a way to taint that fear with humour. Note that this isn't an avenue to invalid your child's fear. He or she is afraid because is normal. Nothing wrong about that. The focus of this is on the image of that thing the child fears. Let's say for example the child is pulling out monsters from his imagination. The goal is to find a way to paint a picture of a monster in a more human and funny way. This move makes the monster less menacing to the child whenever he or she imagines it.
For a parent, when their child is afraid of something, they want to avoid that thing any way they can. It is perfectly understandable. But it doesn't do much to help the child. In the short term, this might make things easier. But in the long run, you're not helping the child. Avoidance will only keep the child's fears ticking over and growing.
Reference: Psychology Today