Adults and children alike have fears. Fear is something we all experience because it’s a built in protective measure that helps us avoid or predict danger. But when your child has fears that interrupt sleep, or daily activities, what can you do to help? They don’t have to be severe fears to change the way your child behaves.
The top five fears for younger children are:
3- Personal Danger
2- Loss of a Parent
And though your own child may display different fears, like thunder storms, scary dreams or TV shows, the way you help your child work through those fears can be the same. By giving your child as much information about their fear as is age appropriate the better they will understand what is an imagined part of the fear and what is real.
Keep in mind however, that a young child who is experiencing the fear of something imagined is still having a very real emotion. Some of the best ways to deal with fears in your child are:
- Stay calm and confident in your approach. Sometimes HOW you speak to your child is more important than what you actually say.
- Don’t try to talk your child out of his or her fears. By acknowledging your child’s fears you help to bolster their self-confidence that they can figure out a way to overcome them.
- Help them develop coping skills like drawing their fears, or making a song about them. Even role-playing can take the power out of a fear and replace the scary feeling with something more positive. Who knows? Maybe you’ll have a light moment of fun that your child can remember instead!
- Limit the exposure your child has to media, including the news. While adults understand that the “bad” news we see on TV is for informational purposes, our children can’t always filter the images and stories they hear. It becomes hard to understand that far-away events won’t impact their walk to school in the morning.
Don’t forget that each time your child overcomes a fear, reward or praise the effort, no matter how big or small. Each time your child faces a fear, he or she is showing you their strength and courage, so remember to give them credit for a job well done.