Does your child have a fear of something? Maybe he is afraid of the dark or will not go near water. In this post we will be looking at common childhood fears and how you can help your child with conquering these fears the right way. Learning to deal with our fears, is a vital life lesson that could benefit your child greatly.
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Common childhood fears that children often have:
- Fear of the dark
- Being left alone
- Fear of heights
- Fear of large animals or dogs
- Loud or unfamiliar sounds
- Imaginary monsters under the bed, in the closet, etc.
- Getting injections or going to the doctor or dentist
- Fear of water and swimming
It is important to validate these fears and move forward from there. Once you know what your child’s fear is, you must let him know that you are acknowledging it and taking it seriously. Often, things that are scary for children, are not scary at all for adults. These fears that children have are not always rational, but the feelings they have and the physiological reaction, is very real to them.
You can rest assured that eventually your child will outgrow these fears, but in the meanwhile, you can try these nine tips to make the transition somewhat easier on your little one.
Nine tips for parents to help their children overcome common childhood fears
- Practice patience
You should never force your child to face his fears until he is ready to do so. Remember, even though his fear might not make sense to you, the feelings he experiences is very real to him. Instead, practice patience, be empathetic, and let him know that he can conquer his fears at his own pace. With that said, you do not want him to overindulge his fear either, since it might do more harm than good. Talk to him about these emotions he is feeling in a comforting and calm manner.
- Use role models to your advantage
Childhood fears are not unordinary and there are many resources available that you can use to teach your child to deal with his childhood fears. Look for age-appropriate toys, children’s books or children’s entertainment that feature characters and storylines that involve dealing with being brave and facing your fears. Children’s programmes like Paw patrol, for instance, has storylines where the adorable pups have to face their fears at some point, to help others.
- Leading by example
Perhaps you have some fears of your own, like a fear of spiders, or a fear of heights? Often, the best way to teach our children to overcome their fears, is by showing them how it is done. Place yourself in a situation where your child can witness first hand how you face your fear confidently and calmly. After all, if you can do it, your child can learn from your example and follow suit.
- Place them in charge
Fear is often the direct response of feeling physically helpless or threatened. Children who are scared of going to the toilet, for instance, have a fear of being flushed down the toilet. Kids who are scared of dogs, are fearful of getting bitten. Little children who are fearful of the monster under their bed may feel vulnerable on their own when their rooms are dark.
Giving them some responsibility in managing their fears can go a long way towards making them feel secure and safe. For instance, if they are scared of intruders that might break in, let them shut their bedroom window at night before going to bed.
- Keep encouraging them and give praise
Not taking your child’s fears seriously or teasing them about it will not do any good. Ignoring these fears or belittling your child, might result in them internalising the fear instead of dealing with it, and you may end up losing their trust. Instead, talk to him about his fears, reassure him that you are always there for him and its ok for him to face his fears at his pace and in his own way. It is vital to praise his efforts when he has done something that is not within his comfort zone. It will help him with boosting his confidence and eventually overcoming these fears.
- Always remain calm
It is not easy seeing your child in distress and we as parents often feel helpless. The wrong response, like getting angry, or laughing, might make these feeling s of distress and fear worse. Stay calm and consistent to get faster results. When a child is in a state of fear, they cannot discuss the problems reasonably. Be patient and offer comfort when it happens.
- Answer his questions
Even though childhood fears are often derived from exaggerated or imaginary perceptions, they are still very real to your child. Talk to them about these fears and try to put yourself in his shoes to understand where it is coming from. Prompt him to ask questions and try your best to answer them as age-appropriate and gentle as you can. If you do not know the answers, do some research online or at the library to arm yourself with the right answers.
- Take it one step at a time
You can help your child to overcome his fear through gentle exposure to it, and slowly increasing the time and practice. You can consult with your child while doing so. For instance, if he has a fear of the bath, you can first add a small amount of water, then slowly add a bit more. Use a jug to pour a little bit of water on his hands, then continue to pour a little on his neck and back. Always take small steps until he feels more confident and comfortable, before moving on to the next step.
Many children have common childhood fears, and it is essential to handle the issue appropriately. Even though some of these fears may appear ridiculous to you, remember, to the child they are very real. We hope that these tips will assist you with helping your child to overcome his childhood fears.
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