Tips and Tricks for Managing Childhood FearsPosted on May 9, 2023 by Ladybug Child Care Center
Working through fear is an inevitable part of growing up. As parents, our first instinct is to comfort and reassure our children, but we can’t always be there to do so. Instead, teaching our children how to manage their fears independently can help them develop confidence and independence, which will serve them well as they grow up.
But what steps can you take to help your children feel braver and more confident?
The Skill of Self-Regulation
The answer to the question above is self-regulation – a valuable skill that often goes unnoticed by parents. Self-regulation refers to our ability to manage and process our emotions and behaviors in a healthy manner. It allows us to talk ourselves down and feel our emotions without acting on them.
Most adults practice self-regulation without even realizing it, like feeling a moment of fear before reassuring themselves that there’s nothing to be scared of in a dark room. However, for children, developing self-regulation takes time, practice, and the freedom to learn by making mistakes. This means parents must learn to accept the discomfort their children may experience while figuring things out.
Teach Them Not to Be Scared of Being Scared
Children do face legitimately scary things, but many common childhood fears are not actually dangerous. That “monster” in the closet? It’s just a coat that needs to be donated. Teaching your child not to be afraid of fear presents an opportunity for them to practice regulating emotions. However, for this to work, you must first address your own anxiety. It’s natural to want to immediately fix the situation when you see your child in distress, but this can make it harder for them to learn how to calm down in the long run.
Tips and Tricks to Help Your Child Manage Fear
By no means should you stuff your child in a dark bedroom and leave them alone to fend for themselves. Instead, your goal should be to guide your little bug along until they’re ready to take the reins. By providing them the scaffolding, they can stand on their own.
Try these tips and tricks to help your kids overcome fear:
- Help your child talk about the things that are frightening them.
Parents can assist their children in expressing their fears by asking specific questions. Although children may be aware of their fears, they may not have the necessary language to explain them. For instance, if a child is frightened of dogs, parents can inquire about the reasons behind their fear. “What makes those dogs so scary?” “Did a dog surprise you or knock you over?” “Is there a certain pup that scares you?” Knowing what the child is afraid of can provide you with a clearer understanding of how to help them overcome their fears.
Some typical fears children have include the following:
- High Places and Heights
- Dark Rooms and Spaces
- Having to Be Alone
- Big Animals
- Going to the Doctor for a Checkup
- Unusual Noises
- Validate your child’s fears and then move on
Once you have identified their fear, you should validate their feelings before moving on. Experts advise that when a child expresses fear, it is important to take their feelings seriously. Instead of dismissing their fear by saying, “Oh come on, that wasn’t scary!” or “What is there to be afraid of?” you should try to empathize with your child’s emotions. For example, “Wow, it sounds like you were scared!” or “I know many kids worry about that.” After providing reassurance, it is crucial to move on quickly, so your child doesn’t dwell on their fear and make it worse.
- Stick to a plan
Try to work with your little one to set reasonable goals. If your child asks you to sit with them until they fall asleep, encourage them to turn off the lights and fall asleep on their own one day a week. Once your goal is set, walk your child through the steps to complete it. For example, one night, you could sit with them and have them read a book. When they’re done, have them switch off the lights, turn on a familiar nightlight, and go to bed. The next night, repeat the process, but instead of sitting with them, try keeping the door cracked instead. Be sure to let them know you’ll be just outside their door.
- Patience is Key
Remember – change can take a lot of time to happen. That’s especially true when fear is involved. When they take a step toward overcoming their fears, do your part and provide a lot of healthy encouragement and excitement. Don’t give up if it takes your child some time to take that first step – be patient.
Childcare You Can Trust
Whether you have a toddler going through the “terrible 2’s” or a preschool-age bug in the rug, your baby is unique, and we know it. With that in mind, our goal at Ladybug Child Care Center is to provide your child with the opportunity to explore, learn, and grow in a nurturing atmosphere. Everything is designed with your child in mind, from our individualized and nurturing infant program to our stimulating toddler and preschool curricula. We also offer programs for school-aged children through our unique AdventureCentre.
Ladybug is all about meeting the individual needs of your child. When we meet your little bug’s individual needs, we also meet your needs as a parent.Filed Under: Tips for Parents