Children always look up to their parents for a sense of safety and security – this is even more in times of a crisis. So setting a right approach to helping kids to talk about their anxiety and fear gets crucial. Here are some tips on how to approach such conversations with your child and to provide them with needed support and comfort.
My personal encounter with my son’s fear
I will never forget the time when we first time got a battery-operated toy for my then almost 1-year-old son. It was a caterpillar that made a slight sound while jiggling around. There were so flashing lights or hard sounds, it was just the jiggling action (on its own due to batteries) that made my son howl and run around in fear. We tried explaining to him that it was merely a toy but he refused to even look at it, leave alone touch or tap it. We quickly put that silly offending toy in a corner and I gathered my son in my lap for a gentle talk. After a long reassuring hug and explanation about the toy, he finally picked up the toy and played with it. still not operating the battery. It was the first time my little boy took a step toward learning how to manage something he feared. And it was that day I decided that I shall be helping kids to talk about their Anxiety and Fear freely.
Why a child is fearful?
Every child is unique and some children may be more fearful than others. There could be a lot of contributing factors like:
- A Genetic susceptibility – some kids are generally more sensitive and emotional in their temperament
- An anxious parent – parents are the first teachers, kids learn how to behave by watching their parents
- Overprotective parenting – a dependent child is more likely to feel vulnerable and fearful in difficult situations
- A Stressful event – Possible reasons could be parental separation, any injury or a hospital stay.
Help a kid deal with fearful/stressful events
- Listen: Give children opportunities to communicate about what they are feeling. Encourage them to share their concerns and ask questions
- Comfort: Use simple tools which can comfort and calm children, for e.g. telling stories, singing and playing games with them. Praise them often for their strengths, such as showing compassion and helpfulness.
- Reassure children that you are always there and prepared to keep them safe. Provide them with correct information through verified sources
Books That can help your child overcome their fears (Mini Review)
No Monsters In our Home: Help kids overcome their fears by Amanda Hembrow.
Have you noticed that your once fearless toddler is scared of the dark or of shadows, they refuse to go into a dark room? If yes, do tell your child this story about monsters being in shadows, and that if you turn the light on, they would disappear.
No monsters in the house anymore – None actually! We recently read this wonderful storybook and now we are no more in any fear of darkness. A little bit sometimes at night when unable to sleep, for that we have got cute night bulb. but most days we are absolutely fine. It is that easy to conquer your child’s fears…once and for all. So do give it a read if your child fears darkness. The book is available for free on Kindle Unlimited. You can buy it here on Amazon (Affiliate Link)
How can we parents be helping kids to talk about their anxiety and fear openly?
We can never shield our children every time from everything that may inspire fear. But as a parent, we can help them openly talk about their anxiety and fear to develop the tools to cope with whatever is making them fearful.
Firstly we should understand what possible fears they may have. There is this is a great post I found online, on the list of some of the Common fears in babies, toddlers and primary school age. This will help you understand the age-wise possible fears and reasons for anxiety a child may have. We parents can help teach our kids a few things to help calm their fears against something like crossing the road. However, we should note that kids could be fearful of things or probably situations that we adults don’t find threatening. Also, the possible source of fear keeps changing as the child matures. For example – fear of darkness or fear of monsters may go away as the child grow ups.
As a parent, we can be helping kids to talk about their Anxiety and Fear by dealing with fear positively. For kids to talk they should be able to take their feelings seriously. We can encourage them to talk about their anxieties, telling them some facts and giving them the opportunity to help confront their fears at their own pace.
STEPS to help kids understand their fears and talk about their feelings
Where you can get help
- Your doctor
- Childline 1098
- Reach out Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India,
- National Helpline 1075 (toll-free) or 011-23978046
- You can also write to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- Read more information by UNICEF here.
Things to remember
- Sometimes children feel afraid of situations or objects that an adult doesn’t find threatening.
- Making fun of or teasing the child or forcing them to confront their fears may make things worse.
- You can be helping kids to talk about their anxiety and fear when they take their fears seriously and are encouraged to talk about their feelings often.