Everyone in life will experience fears, but it get be difficult when our children start becoming afraid of things in the world. It starts off small, like a loud noise or a room filled with people, to later in life when they start fearing rejection or being home alone. Even as adults, we have fears from death to budget concerns.
Fear is just a part of life, but our children don’t know that yet. And telling them it’s normal can be very discouraging to hear.
Fear begins when our imaginations start developing. That coat in the closet can easily become a person. That shadow on the wall could be a monster. Imagination plays a big role in fear in our children.
But as the child develops, fear also happens through observations from their parents. A parent being uncomfortable in an environment will cause the child to be afraid. One time, we were on a trip away from home with the youth and a storm was coming. As the adult leaders, we were well prepared and knew the dangers. We were calm and collective, but a parent back home wasn’t and called their child. Calling their child in panic, caused their child, who was hundreds of miles away, to get fearful of a storm that we knew was coming.
As parents, we can do a couple of things to help with your child’s fear.
First, we need to stay calm and confident. I know it can be hard to be calm especially if you awoken every night. And sometimes we don’t have confidence because we don’t have the right solution to fix their problems. But what you can do, is walk and talk with them about their fears and show them that there is nothing to be afraid of. Say that with sincerity and confidence will come out.
Second, reward bravery. Do not worry if the accomplishment is small or big, it is an accomplishment. Reward them with something that fitting for the task. For example, if they are afraid of the water, and they decide to take on their fear. Reward them with a trip to their favorite dinner spot.
Finally, relieve your child’s fear by allowing them to tell you what will comfort them, even if it sounds dumb. Let them lock the door or window, if they are afraid of someone coming. Give them a night light, if the dark is causing problems. Let them tell you what will make them feel safe and if it’s reasonable let it happen. Obviously there are some realistic boundaries, and if something comes up that is unrealistic, give them a better option.
There is no doubt about that life is scary, and there are realistic fears in this world. We cannot protect or keep every fear away from children, but we can help them know that there is comfort, and there is peace in this world as well.
What kind of tips do you have with dealing with fears? If it is constructive, let me know if the comments below.
Photo Credit: Medo / Fear by xaimex via Flickr (Creative Commons)