Getting Children to Face Their Fears
Being a child can be scary sometimes. With so much going on in the world, most of it new and confusing, it’s not surprising that even young children can develop irrational fears about certain scenarios which make them feel anxious and afraid. The good news is, it’s easy to work with your child as a parent, teacher of care provider to work through these fears and learn to manage them effectively. Fear manifests itself in a number of ways. It can be an unarticulated worry which the child hasn’t even acknowledged aloud, and yet this concern can lead to enuresis (bed wetting), loss of confidence or sleeplessness. Knowing how to encourage a child to vocalize these worried can work wonders to allay them, leaving your child feeling confident and secure once again. For children, fear can come in all shapes and sizes, it could be fear of loud noises (such as balloons or fireworks), imagined threats (monsters under the bed or separation anxiety) or tangible concerns about being left out of peer groups or laughed at. The key for all types of fear is to support your child to face it fully, turning around and looking straight at the thing which worries them, to ensure that they know that their fears are ungrounded. The best trick possible for a care giver to use with a child is to encourage them to face the fear. Let’s take monsters under the bed as an example – by working through a simple conversation with them, it’s possible to show that there is nothing to be afraid of, and the monster under the bed can be despatched quickly. If your child is worried about the monster under the bed, try the following conversation:
- Why are you worried about a monster under the bed?
- Why would a monster choose your bed to hide underneath?
- What could happen if there was a monster? What could you do?
- What would the monster look like? What might he eat? Does he snore?
- What do you think the worst thing that could happen would be if there was a monster under the bed?
- Have you ever heard of (the worst thing) happening to someone? No? Me neither.
- What could be good about having a pet monster?