Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Children's Fears

Fear is common among children. While some of this can be a good thing, such as being afraid of large dogs or busy streets, too much fear can be a problem. A child with too much fear may be afraid to participate in normal activities.

Some fears can develop because your child knows someone who is afraid. For example, if you panic whenever there is a spider in the house, your child may learn to fear spiders. Don’t tell them their fears are ridiculous or make fun of them.

It helps to learn how each of your children show their fears. Some children will suck their thumb. Some will fidget. Some will whine and complain. Some will completely fall to pieces. It’s important for children to learn to talk about all of their feelings, including fear. When a child looks as if he is scared, you can say, “You are biting your fingernails. Does that mean you feel scared?”

Fears exist because children know a little bit about something but not enough about it to deal with it realistically. Help children learn about the things that scare them. Find books that can help answer some of their questions, such as why fire trucks have sirens, what spiders can do, or thunder and lightning.

Recognize courage when you see it. For example, you could say, “When we walked by the dog, you didn’t ask to be picked up, but just held my hand. Good for you, you are getting brave.”

Suggest ways to help your child cope with fear. If your child is scared of the dark, try a night light or flash light that your child can control. If he is afraid of the bathtub drain, let him be the one to pull the plug on the count of three after he gets out of the water. Limit time watching TV, particularly the news or violent and/or horror shows.

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