It’s not uncommon for children to have a fear or two that they struggle with throughout their childhood. While you might feel their fear is irrational, the anxiety they feel when exposed to their fear is very real for them. Luckily, there are quite a few things you can do and ways you can help your child move past this way of thinking. So regardless of if the fear is the dark, thunderstorms, or animals, here are three ways you can help your child overcome a fear.
Acknowledge and Discuss Their Fear
As was mentioned above, it’s important that you take your child’s fear seriously even if it doesn’t seem frightening or make sense to you. KidsHealth.org reminds us that just because a certain fear may seem trivial to you doesn’t mean that it’s not causing your child real stress. And after you’ve acknowledged with your child that this fear exists, it can be very helpful to talk about it together. The more you’re able to discuss this fear and the causes of it with your child, the less power you give that fear. You can remove the mystery and uncertainty surrounding a fear by simply talking about it together in a positive, calm way.
Use Sensory Calming Techniques
When your child is in the midst of being frightened, it can be a challenge to know how to calm him or her down and ease their fears. For many kids, verbal reasoning or assurance doesn’t always work. For this reason, Lisa C. Baker, a contributor to LifeHacker.com, recommends using sensory calming techniques. Some of these techniques could include holding your child tight and rocking back and forth, allowing them to run around and burn off some energy, or doing something rhythmic like pouring sand or water. By giving their other senses something to focus on, it can draw their attention away from what scared them and help them relax from that stressful situation.
Positively Praise and Encourage Your Child When They Face Their Fear
As you and your child get more comfortable talking about fears, it makes sense to then start facing those fears. To best do this, try to help your child gradually face smaller fears that they have in a process to build up to facing their bigger fears. Every time your child does something that scares him or her, AnxietyBC.com suggests positively praising and encouraging your child verbally. Because children and teens respond better to positive reinforcement as opposed to negative reinforcement when it comes to facing their fears, this encouragement could be just what they need to overcome their fear for good.
If you’re interested in helping your child face their fears, use the tips mentioned above to help you do just that.