MOTHERHOOD: 4 simple steps to help kids face their fears

by Sarah Lyons

As a child, we sometimes feel afraid. We call on our parents’ help when we are scared, nervous, or need help checking under the bed for monsters.

It’s normal for children to have fears. Kids may have bad dreams, be frightened of the dark, or find certain movie scenes scary.

However, little ones can develop fears that interrupt their everyday life such as a fear of speaking in front of others, a fear of being dropped off at school, or a fear of trying new things.

Here are four simple tips to help your bambinos face their fears.

1. Give permission

As a parent, let kids know that it is perfectly normal and acceptable to be scared. When you give a child permission to feel afraid, they can begin to acknowledge what is frightening them and face it head on. You can also give tips on how to deal with different situations, and work through the situation together. Try to help kids know what to expect and allow them to ask questions.

2. Problem solve

Try to pinpoint exactly what your child is afraid of and discuss ways that it can be handled. For example, if you child is afraid of failing at something new or difficult, discuss what would be the result of this – just try again, no big deal – that’s how we learn. If your child is afraid of the dark, using a night light may help solve the problem.

3. Teach coping skills

Each time your child is afraid, give them tools they can use to overcome their fears. A child may be able to calm down by singing a song, hugging a stuffed animal, telling a joke, or declaring that monsters aren’t real. Give your child the tools they need to face their fears, and also reassure them you are always there to help them when they are afraid.

4. Reward bravery

As you see your child overcome fears or at least make efforts to face the things that scare them, reward them for their bravery. Giving positive feedback and acknowledging their efforts will encourage your child to keep trying to confront the things that cause them fear and anxiety. A parent’s praise can really build a child’s confidence so they are prepared to face a variety of challenges.

As you work these steps with your child, continue to be patient and supportive. It is normal to have fears and it is appropriate to explain this to your child. As scary situations arise, encourage your child to share their feelings with you so that you can deal with them together.

MD®