Fear is a basic human emotion necessary for self-preservation and survival. However, fears and anxiety can interfere with a child’s growth and happiness. The following are suggested ways for parents to help.
- Encourage Questions: To the child the unknown is always fearful. Questions are a child’s method of feeling secure through knowledge.
- Talk Over Disturbing Events: Re-living the event through words, or playing it out, helps the child assimilate an anxiety that might otherwise be suppressed.
- Avoid Re-exposing a Child to Fear: A child’s fear cannot be undone by exposing him or her to the same frightening circumstances again. A child should have reassurance and relief after a scare. He can more easily face another fright if he has a memory of relief from the first.
- Avoid Shaming: Shaming only adds insult to injury. It makes the child feel weaker and less able to deal with his fears. Shaming may cure the child of expressing fear, but the underlying anxiety will eventually be expressed in some other way (nightmares, tantrums, tension, stuttering, timidity, etc.)
- Look for Underlying Causes: Anxieties change with time and events. If the basic cause is not discovered, the anxiety may worsen and it’s origin become lost.
- Accept the Child’s Answers: Remember that understanding and kindness will be more effective than cross-examination. Sometimes the child truly does not know the cause of his anxiety.
- Get In Tune with Your Child: We can’t rear our children to be absolutely free of fear. We can help our children grow to maturity unburdened by destructive anxiety; free to become spontaneous and creative adults with a greater capacity to enjoy themselves and contribute to the happiness of others.