Childhood fears and 3 ways to fight them

Childhood fears and 3 ways to fight them

Fear is a protective response to physical or emotional threat. However, when it comes to children it’s a completely different story.

Childhood fears are based on the information which little kids get from trusted adults and pass through the lens of their imagination. That’s why their fears can be irrational, illogical and might have nothing to do with a real threat.

Fears appear for many reasons.

1. General anxiety in the family. If a family member constantly says to a child: "Don't touch it or you’ll burn yourself", "Don't climb up or you’ll fall", "Don't come up or it’ll bite you", the child will start to feel anxious when he wants to do something. That’s not to say that reasonable caution shouldn’t be put in place, but if there are too many such phrases in the child's life and he hears them too often it can cause anxiety and fears.

2. Past traumatic experience such as a dog’s bite, a bad fall and so on. Having had a negative experience in the past children might be afraid that the same unpleasant situation will happen again.

3. Conscious intimidation by parents or significant adults. When you spook a child with fairytale characters, doctors or police officers even for fun it can develop into a real fear.

4. Hostile atmosphere in the family. Difficult situations in the family can also become a breeding ground for developing fears.

How to help a child to get rid of fear?

For starters you need to understand what exactly the child is afraid of. Discuss with the child what frightens him. When you identify the fear, react with calm and confidence. Find out in what situations the fear appears and what it’s like.

Don't try to give logical arguments to convince the child that there’s no reason to be afraid. As we’ve already mentioned above childhood fears are rarely logical therefore logical arguments won't help.

There are several effective ways to defeat fear.

1. Draw the fear. Draw with the child what he is afraid of. While drawing talk everything over and add details. Ask the child how he thinks you can defeat that fear. The finished drawing can be burned or tied to a balloon and let go. Explain to the child that this is how he defeats his fears.

2. Ask the child to act out or make up a story where he will be a brave hero who will defeat the fear. The story or performance should have as much detail as possible.

3. Try not to scare the child on purpose. Create a favorable and safe environment at home and when walking not to lecture the child all the time, maintain warmth and trust in the family.

If you can’t cope with the child’s fear on your own it is better to seek help of a psychologist.