Deirdre Budd’s Blog

Archive for March 2009

All children have different experiences and different reactions to the same situation. Some are fearful in situations that do not worry others. Children should be encouraged to cope with their fears and parents can help them to do this. Fears can come from watching others and many children fear the same things as their parents do. Fears are often unintentionally rewarded. For example a child who is afraid of the dark may insist that a parent goes with them and a light is left on. Given a lot of attention and reassurance the fear can be rewarded by leaving a light on.  Rewarding a fear in this way allows that same fear to continue.

Help your child to manage fear by talking about their fears. Stay calm and let your child know that you understand that they are afraid. Everyone is afraid at some time. Try and keep your own fears under control. Teach your child coping strategies such as ;-

  • breathing slowly as if they are filling a balloon full of air in their tummy.
  • Go floppy like a rag doll so that all the muscles are relaxed, distract themselves by thinking of a happy memory or using imagination in a positive way.
  • Remain calm when your child is scared. If you are confident you empower them to be so too.
  • Praise your child for facing their fears.
  • Encourage your child to face new things.
  • Help them to face things they must do.
  • Talk to your child about dangerous situations and have clear specific rules about what your child should do in these situations.

It can take some time for children to overcome their fears, particularly if they have held these beliefs for some time. Encourage children to gradually approach the things they fear and to cope with the unpleasant feelings they associate with them. Be prepared to seek professional help if the fears remain a problem.

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