Saturday, July 21, 2012

How to Help Children Overcome their Fears

Fear is an integral part of a child’s development. This is especially the case for kids of about 3 – 6 years. This is when they begin to think and begin to rationalise things. As parents, we sometimes stoke these fears especially when we ‘threaten’ them jocularly though, that we will call the bogeyman, the masquerade or some other threatening monsters for them if they do not behave in a particular manner. 

While this may be good to get them to do what we want, like maybe eat their food, it could also create a lasting fear in them. Children generally develop the phobia for things like, the dark, dogs, thunderstorms, and other imaginary things. If they don’t outgrow such phobia, it could negatively affect their development. These are some tips on helping kids outgrow such phobias:

  • Understand their fear: don’t dismiss it as unreal and being clownish. The fears are real to them
  • Be patient: that is the only way they can outgrow it. If you scold them over the fear, you worsen matters as they may become withdrawn
  • Don’t use words that suggest that his fears can easily be dismissed or are unwarranted – words like “don’t be scared”, or “your mates are not scared” could only worse it as he may stop sharing his fears with you
  • Share together stories about the object of their fears; let them see that they are just mere objects of either imaginations or sometimes, inanimate objects
  • If their fears are about dark places, especially in the house, let them know that once the door is locked, they don’t have to fear; lead them through the house when well lit, and encourage them to check out all dark and shadowing corners
  • If their fears are about dogs, let them know how to act around dogs, and let them know that dogs are sensitive and can sense friendliness – they should exude friendliness around dogs
  • Remind your child of things he probably was afraid of earlier, but which fear he has overcome; that will help him know that he can easily overcome the present source of fear
  • Above all, be their model in bravery; even when you encounter a real scary situation, don’t show fear with your child present

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