Help the child with fear to deal with his or her fear and important part of education. Childhood fear, when moderate, is totally normal: every child, at some point, experiences some kind of fear.
Fear of the dark is the most common fear. Some children are afraid of fires, monsters, ghosts, high places or thunderstorms. Other children, aware of the news on TV, are worried about robbers.
And there are emotional fears, which unfortunately create a lot of anxiety. For example, if there has been a recent serious illness or death in the family, it becomes anxious about the health of the father and mother.
As they grow older, childhood fears diminish, they disappear on their own. There come new fears, youth fears, usually related to the anxieties of new experiences and new challenges.
The fear becomes that of rejection, of criticism, of ridicule. All these fears are an inevitable part of growth.
Treating Fears and Phobias
Sometimes fears can become so extreme and persistent that they become phobias. Phobias – which are strong and irrational fears – can become debilitating, significantly influencing and interfering with a child’s or youth’s daily activities.
For example, a 6-year-old child who has developed a phobia about large dogs can become so panicked at the idea of finding one that he or she refuses to play outside. Fortunately, there are several ways to deal with fear before it becomes a phobia.
Habits That Reduce Fear
Studies show that children’s concerns can be reduced if they develop habits that help them minimize anxieties.
If we help our children develop and practice strategies for coping with fear, with regularity enough for these techniques to become habits, they will be more able to cope with any fear or disturbing event they encounter in their lives.
Here you will find strategies to help the child increase his courage and curb his fears and worries. These practical tips will help your child take a fresh look at situations he finds frightening:
1 Encourage the Child to Talk About His Fears
Knowing how to express fears in words makes these fears a little less frightening for the child, easier to deal with.
An important goal for you, as a parent, should be to discover the child’s fears as soon as possible, before they take on a frightening proportion and become phobias.
Make sure your child knows that you will listen carefully. You must reassure your child, clarify his doubts about what scares him and ask questions that help him understand the irrationality of his fear.
Also talk about your fears when you were a child – this will help them to open up more easily.
- Help the Child Understand the Importance of Facing Fears
Use an example, it helps a lot. Ask your child any questions like this:
“Ana is very afraid of the water, but she really wanted to play with her friends in the pool. What do you think she can do to stop being afraid of the water?”
Use a question that preferably does not involve the fear your child feels – it will be easier to get him to analyze and think about a situation that is not personal.
The idea is to make him come to the conclusion by himself that to stop being afraid of something, there is only one way: he needs to face it.
You can give your child an explanation like this to help him understand even more:
“It’s important for you to face your fears head-on, for you to learn that in fact the situation that scares you is safe. I know that in the beginning it can seem very frightening to face a fear head-on, but with practice you will see how you will become less anxious. With time, you will no longer feel fear, you will see that fear only existed in your head. Fear only exists in our heads! “
- Little by Little, Begin to Expose the Child to the Source of Your Fear
It is normal for children and adolescents to want to avoid the things they fear. But the most important step in helping your child control irrational fears involves helping him or her to face the situations or places they fear.
The process of facing the fears involves exposing the child, slowly and repeatedly, to feared situations until he or she feels less anxious.
Exposure therapy is not dangerous and will not make fear worse. After a while, facing the thing that frightens her will give her self-confidence, and the anxiety will naturally decrease.
For example, as mentioned above, a child who is afraid of water. You can take him/her to a swimming pool every two days. In the first week, just sit with her on the edge and tell her that you will only be talking with her feet in the water.
In the second week, take the stairs and say that you will just go in with your legs. Then make her sit on the stairs with the water up to her waist.
After a while, when you feel that she is safe, encourage the first dive, in an area of the pool that gives her feet. Celebrate, play, laugh and praise success at each stage.
As the main part of the treatment for fear, therapists suggest that you begin to expose your child to the source of your fear little by little, in small, non-threatening doses. And stand by his side, talking and supporting, during this procedure.
This process will help your child to become a little less sensitive to the source of his fear each time you confront him.
Ultimately, the child will no longer feel the need to avoid the situation that has been the basis of their fear.
When the child has reached this stage, encourage him/her to go further, such as taking swimming lessons. A child with initial fear of water can learn to love swimming! And overcoming a fear in this way is invaluable to your child’s personal development.
The same process, of facing fear little by little, can be used in any case. Exposure is one of the most effective ways to overcome fears.
However, it requires planning, encouragement, conversation, and praise. And don’t rush, follow the pace you think your child needs.
- Help Your Child Find Solutions to Overcome Fears
Research from Harvard Medical School shows that if you feel you have some control over a situation, it helps to reduce fear. Within this logic, help your child to develop their own fear reduction plan.
First, help him to clearly identify the source of fear and express it to you. Make a list with your child of situations he fears. From the moment the child externalizes the fear, the process of overcoming it begins. For example:
“Mom, there are some strange shadows on my wall that leave me afraid to sleep in the dark.
Now think together with your child about some reasonable solutions so that he feels more
- Focus on Fun
Playful approaches can be an excellent and effective way to reduce anxieties.
If your child is afraid of the dark, read stories of overcoming fear with him, in the dark, using a flashlight!
If he’s worried about a monster under his bed, take paper and pen and draw a monster with a silly, or scared, face.
Banalizing fear through funny situations can help the child face the problem more lightly.
- 7. Play Educational Games that Help a Child Find Ways to Deal with Fear
Games are multifunctional tools that can be used for various purposes. The Games to help overcome fears challenges the child, little by little, to create a resistance to what frightens them.
During the game, the child is relaxed and receptive, which makes it much easier to explore challenging topics.
- Encourage the Child to Read Books on Overcoming Fears
Reading books about a situation that is particularly frightening for the child can help them think of new ways to face fear.
The story is very important in any process of overcoming, because children often identify with the character who shares the same anxiety: “Oh, how nice! Someone else feels the same way I do!”
BOOKS | The 36 Best Books to Help Your Child Overcome Fears
- Encourage Positive Thinking
Fear drains the child’s energy, and feeds negative thinking. And the more the child gets involved with his negative thoughts, the more fear he feels.
When the child begins to have pessimistic thoughts, it is difficult to stop them. As it happens with all of us.
The only way to annul negative thoughts is by learning to replace them with other, more positive thoughts.
Here are 15 Strategies to Help a Child Develop Positive Thinking
- Ask for Hugs!
When our children are upset, one of our instincts as parents is to hug them to try to comfort them. University of Miami behavior research has proven our instincts right!
Hugs really help to reduce our children’s worries and calm them down. Hugs are especially soothing and emotionally beneficial for children with fear or trauma.
Teach your child to say, “I need a hug! Have you seen the movie Trolls? Nothing better than Hug Hour!
- Teach Relaxation Strategies for Children in Fear
If fear makes your child very tense, teaching him relaxation strategies can help. The trick is for your child to use one of these strategies the moment he feels fear or worry arriving.
~ Tell him that the moment he starts to feel tense, close his eyes and imagine that he is walking on a cloud, or lying silently on the sand on a beach, or to imagine something, possible or imaginary, that leaves him very calm.
~ Teach him to close his eyes and stay breathing deeply. Explain to him that it is clinically proven that deep and slow breaths reduce anxiety.
~ Teach your child to pretend that his lungs are balloons, that he can fill to the maximum and slowly let the air out, and with the air his fears also go out and disappear.
- Help the Child to Memorize Affirmations that Reduce Fear
Teach your child how to face fear by helping him to memorize positive and motivational phrases. Help your child choose three phrases he can speak to himself when he gets anxious, phrases like :
“I can and will think of something else”.
“I can and will think of something else.
“I’ll be fine.
“I won’t keep feeding my fear, it only exists in my head.”
- Don’t Undervalue the Child’s Fears
It’s no use trying to force a child to be brave. What to us may seem like a big nonsense, to her it may be a seven-headed bug.
It will take time for her to confront and gradually overcome her anxieties. You can, however, always encourage her to progressively face everything she fears.
It’s also very important to be careful not to ridicule our children’s fears, especially in front of friends.
- Praise Courageous Behavior
It is not easy to face fears. Praise and recognition can encourage courageous behavior. Children and adolescents respond very well to approval and encouragement.
For example, you can say, “You did it! You played alone with your friend.”
“You did a great job of introducing yourself to the other kids! “or “I’m proud of you for sleeping in your own room.
When your child is facing strong fears, it can be very helpful to use praise as motivation and recognition.