How to help your Child Overcome Fear
“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.” -Judy Blume
Fear is a strong feeling and it is an inescapable part of being a child. When these fears rear up, as parents our natural instinct is to soothe and comfort. No parent wants to see their child nervous or afraid, but sometimes it is really hard to know what to do when your child is upset or afraid of something. Teaching your child on overcoming fears will enable them to build confidence and independence which is very essential as he grows up and need to feel more in control.
Learning to cope up with fear isn’t always easy. It is best to know the right approach on managing and overcoming these fears.
Understand your kids fear – Get curious of what the fear is about by putting yourself in your child’s age. Phobia is an anxiety disorder that is very common and can be easily develop on kids. It can cause extreme and irrational fear that is so intense that it’s disrupt the normal cycle of life. When your child has a phobia, their normal response gets erratic showing exaggerated feeling of fear and danger. Kids can develop phobias in an instant that is often triggered by a frightening experience which can be harder to figure out.
Be present – Many kids feels that your mere presence is enough to calm them down. They feel the sense of assurance and security. Hug them or let them rest into your lap for a few seconds. Hold their hands, your warmth is enough to lessen their fear and anxiety.
Help find ways to talk about it – Not all kids can explain what they are afraid or fear of. Talking to them the way that he can understand can help getting the words out. Ask questions that a child can answer easily. Look more for body language of your child; if he becomes more clingy or worried about something. Give them some time and listen intently without judging or discounting their anxiety. The best time to talk is when he is calm because he can speak and listen a lot easier. Once you get all the information, explain it back to your kid and confirm if you have it right. Having the opportunity to express your kid’s fear to someone he trusts is important and comforting.
Don’t Avoid the Activities – It will not lessen your child’s fear when they kept avoiding situations or activities that make then afraid or uncomfortable. Help them into activities that make them nervous or fearful. It will take time to conquer fear so do not expect too much on first try. One of the best examples would be, if your child is afraid to speak in front of the class or just answering teacher’s question, practice your child to speak in front of you first, then gradually add other member of the family. By slowly helping them adapt, you can ease their fear and prepare them to cope up on their own as they grow up.
Face it Calmly - Not knowing how to help can be hard and frustrating for parents. It is important to learn to self-sooth as parents. Revealing your emotions could make your child feel like they’ve upset you, increase their nervousness, and make communicating more difficult. Try to set an example of how to react calmly to help your child feel calmer, as well.
Validation – By listening to your child and letting them know that you understand the situation is already a great assurance to them; move on quickly. Do not dwell on it for too long. Let your child solve the problem on his own before offering your help. Talk about how you work together and help him start feeling braver again to the point where he can manage fear by himself.
Encourage and be patient - Encourage and praise small accomplishments. Being brave while facing things they are afraid of or are feeling nervous about is something to celebrate and you can give the full credit to your child. Let him know that you think he can handle his fear even he is not sure yet. Boost his confidence by praising your child’s hard work. Kids need a few tries before things became consistent and for fear to go away. Do not give up and let your child have it on their own phase. Change takes time and doesn’t happen overnight.
Helping your child learn how to overcome their fear is essential but always remember that fear is different with every child and comes on various stages. If your child’s fears seem like they might be something more serious, seek professional help and discuss about things that you need more help with.