Responding to Fear

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Fear is very common in childhood and is a normal part of your child’s development. Most fears that children have are mild and tend to come and go at different ages.  However, some children have such strong fear that it stops them completely from doing things. For example; your child is so scared of monsters in the closet, sleep time is impossible!  When your child fears something, common reactions are screaming, crying, or running to their parents for comfort.

Some common fears that your child might experience are:

  • Unable to breathe
  • Animals (i.e., Big Dogs)
  • The Dark
  • Being Alone
  • Imaginary Creatures such as Monsters in the closet!

How can you manage your child’s fear to help them deal with everyday situations more proactively?

  • Discuss the fear with your child

o   Be understanding and encourage your child to talk about their fear is…

o   These fears are very real for children – no matter how silly they sound to parents

o   Explain to your child that everyone experiences fear

o   Tell your child how you deal with things you are scared of

  • Set a good example

o   Try to control your own fears the best that you can. Example: You are fearful of BIG spiders – instead of screaming and jumping up and down, demonstrate that even though you are scared of BIG spiders, you can calmly walk out of the room and away from the situation.

  • Teach your child some coping strategies that may assist in his fears

o   Practice breathing techniques with your child when the fear is present

o   Help them to relax or calm down – this might mean they snuggle up with their favorite rag doll.

o   Help them Imagine a peaceful place that is not so fearful

o   Teach them to “self-talk”. Example: it’s just a grasshopper, it will not hurt me… it’s just a grasshopper, it will not hurt me.

  • Encourage your child to slowly face their fears
  • Remain calm if your child is fearful and becoming uneasy
  • Use lots of praise if your child faces his fears
  • Try new activities
  • Talk with your child about serious fears such as fires, crossing a busy street, strange dogs, or strange people
  • Allow your child to learn to face his fears with the help of other children the similar age

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