Monday, October 06, 2008

Coping with Childhood Fears


By Rachel Goodchild

FEAR is a normal part of childhood. It comes with children learning about the world around them and discovering themselves.

As parents, we often seek to soothe our children of whatever troubles them and we approach fear in the same way. It causes discomfort in our children, thus we seek to remove it from their world.

But this is something we should not be doing!

Fear is an essential part of life. It teaches us how to deal with stressful situations and how to overcome them. Ultimately, it can develop a sense of balance and wellbeing in our children.

How can we best help our children to cope with their fears? The first step is to know the things we shouldn’t do.

We should not focus too much on it. Children learn in simple ways. We often allow our own anxieties and stress about certain things to interfere with getting the message through to our children. This is wrong.

The more attention that is given to a child’s fear, the more he may turn to it as a way of getting attention from his parents. In fact, the younger the child, the less time we should dwell on the fear.

It is also important to understand the fear itself. Children have wild and vivid imaginations and many of their fears, especially during the pre-school and early school years, are imaginary, such as monsters, ghosts and boogymen.

Reassuring our children is essential. No matter how little or insubstantial the fear may seem to us, we need to assure our children of their safety.

For a child who is afraid of the dark, he may not realize that his room is the same whether in the light or in the dark. Explanations about shadows and light could help him overcome his fear.

Do not enforce the fear by suggesting that the boogyman would get him if he gets out of bed when he should be sleeping as this would confuse him. It would also shake his trust in us.

Showing them that they are not alone in their fears can also help. If the child is old enough, talk to them about the fears we had as a child and how we overcame them. Let him know that we were afraid of and what we did or what our parents did to help us overcome it.

Childhood fears are a normal part of growing up. If we do not help our children to cope with it or learn how to deal with it themselves, it could become a bigger issue in the future.

Many of the fear we had as children grow into bigger issues in adulthood without us even realizing it.

By being well-prepared and open with our children about their fears and the coping mechanisms can help to ensure they are not plagued by fears that may grow into full-blown horrors.

The art of parenting
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
Page 20

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