No one likes to be afraid. It is unpleasant and can sometimes even be so bad as to be debilitating. When children are afraid, it can be difficult as a parent to know how to help our children. Some fear is actually a good thing, however.
It starts when they are infants. Babies as young as my little Sophia (8 months) get upset when people they aren’t familiar with want to talk them, or (heaven forbid!) hold them. While this can be frustrating, especially if they are crying when Great Aunt So and So just wants coo over them – this is actually a healthy thing. They already know that the people that Mom and Dad have them around all the time are safe and they don’t know yet about these new people.
One fear that almost every kid experiences is a fear of the dark. It is unknown, and they fear that just about anything could be lurking in it. For my son, his main fear was that spiders were lying in wait and were going to “get him” when the lights went off. It took quite a while, but he is now able to sleep with the light off, and he has overcome some of that fear.
So, not all fear is a bad thing. It is our job as parents to teach our children to navigate their fears and learn to function with them. For instance, we teach them that crossing the street can be done safely, by stopping and looking both ways. We teach them that many dogs are very friendly, but they should always ask for permission before petting one. We also show them that most people are very friendly, but that they should never walk up to people they don’t know.
This healthy fear – of dogs, fast cars, etc. - can help to keep them safe. We don’t want our children charging into the street without caring if a car is bearing down on them. We don’t want them going up to strange dogs, either. And I didn’t want my son picking up random spiders, especially when there known to be are poisonous ones in my area. The fear of strangers is a very good thing as well. We don’t want our children to walk off with someone who might mean them harm.
How have you helped your kids deal with fear?