A Practical Guide to Helping Your Child Overcome Early Fears
Young children are always in awe of the world around them. During this stage of their development, they process new experiences daily. The world is full of unexplained things – and with the unknown comes fear and anxiety. From an adult perspective, these fears seem trivial, but to kids, they are real and immediate. Fortunately, many such concerns don’t require therapy or other forms of treatment to be adequately addressed – practical measures can be taken to help your child overcome them.
Understanding childhood fears
As adults, we may find it difficult to relate to the fears that young children often experience. We might have only a dim recollection of our fears at a similar age. The concerns of kids may seem irrational compared to ours, but it’s crucial not to dismiss or belittle them. Many fears are universal, deeply rooted in our ancestors’ evolutionary struggle for survival, and they helped early humans to avoid predators and other dangerous situations. Some examples include fear of snakes or other venomous creatures, such as insects, and fear of the dark or loud noises. While these phobias sometimes persist, the majority of children will outgrow them over time, given the right support.
Creating a safe environment
Many of the fears and related symptoms experienced by a young child can be alleviated by constantly providing them with a safe environment. A simple yet effective measure would be openly discussing fear as a family. Encourage children to talk about their worries; articulation will help them define what they feel. It can be a step towards defining the unknown and realizing that it’s not so scary after all. Don’t forget to lead by example – share your fears to start the conversation.
Another strategy to help create a safe environment involves acclimation. Make scary things familiar. Regular trips to a pleasant pediatric dentist can turn dental appointments – a frequent source of terror in little ones – into joyful visits. The fear inspired by strangers will go away once they get used to the new guest, family member, or babysitter. Separation anxiety can be mitigated by practicing a routine – tell your toddler that you’re going for a while, then leave for a few minutes. Return with a kiss and a hug, and take time to play with them. That will reassure them that when Mom or Dad has to leave, they will always be back.
Giving a sense of empowerment
Reducing the sense of danger associated with the home or other activities will help your child to overcome their fears. Still, there’s another approach you can also employ to make them grow even stronger. Work with them to design activities that help them confront their fears, and this will give them a sense of control and empowerment. If they are afraid of the dark or things under the bed, provide them with a flashlight and make it part of a nightly inspection. They would probably outgrow this particular fear eventually, but taking charge will help them develop bravery and have a method of dealing with other fears in the long term.
Your young one’s growing pains will inevitably include having to deal with various childhood fears. Using these steps will give them a structure they can rely on to become stronger and take on each challenge they will face.