Whether kids are afraid of real things or imaginary monsters, fear in children is normal and part of growing up. Some kids are more afraid of things than others, but it generally becomes a problem only if kids become focused on worst case scenarios over and over again.
These are few basic parenting tips on how to help your kids overcome emotional stress from being afraid, improve their confidence and help them successfully overcome their fears.
Fear of the dark
– Show understanding and don’t get frustrated. No matter how ridiculous a boogieman may seem to you, remember the fear from it is real for your child. If you don’t belittle your child’s fear, he will feel safe and less afraid.
– Don’t feed fear’s credibility. Avoid frightening children with monsters (i.e. saying monsters will come and get them if they behave badly). Instead, explain monsters aren’t real even though fear is.
– Relaxing before bedtime. Make the time before going to bed a relaxing and soothing experience; choose to tell relaxing stories, avoid watching television or playing games.
Fear of bugs
-Don’t force it but encourage communication. Talking about it makes it less scary. Demystification of fear through talking, drawing, coloring, fun and play is very important, but don’t force it and do it slowly, step by step. Be patient and follow your child’s tempo. Forcing him to do something he’s extremely uncomfortable with will always have the opposite effect.
Fear of thunder or loud weather
– Imagination to the rescue. Use your imagination to make up fun stories why thunder happens, i.e. clouds are sneezing or two clouds are playing their favorite game of clapping hands.
-Create a safe place. Trick your child into thinking that thunder can never hurt them if they i.e. sit under the table or cover themselves with blanket that has super powers of protection against thunder and wind.
-Pleasant distraction. A favorite snack, a favorite cartoon or earphones with favorite music can be a good way to transfer attention from fear to fun.
Fear of separation
-The “bye bye game”. You start by smiling and waving good bye and return after few seconds. Practice this routine each day, but prolong the time you’re away for a few more minutes. The purpose of this exercise is to teach a child you will always come back.
-Separation anxiety disorder in children is a more serious problem. All fears take time and patience to be conquered but if you suspect your child has developed a serious issue with separation, get help from a child psychologist.
Fear of being alone
– Practice being alone. Let your child play while you’re in the same space, but the child can’t see you. Talk about it and help your child understand not much is different when he’s alone at home.
-Creating a friendly space. Making rooms brighter, better lights or decorating space with fun bright colors can decrease a child’s fear of being alone. Sometimes getting a pet is also a good idea.
Fear of doctors
-Playing doctors with toys. Encourage your child to play imaginary doctor and treat his favorite toy. It may be easier for kids to explain what they’re afraid of through play rather than words. You can also take reward a teddy bear for not being afraid etc.
-Provide comfort. Stay as much as you can with your child while visiting the doctor. Show your child you are right next to her and won’t leave her side, and if you absolutely have to leave – you will be as close as possible. You must feel at ease and in control; kids will pick up on your calm and they will become more calm.
Patient parent is a good parent
Common parenting tips for any kind of fear are to understand fears are real, don’t belittle kids for being afraid and have a lot of patience; the process of overcoming fears doesn’t happen overnight. Patience, fun and humor are your best allies in helping kids cope with their fears.