Friday, September 5, 2008

Managing Fears of Child Positively

Almost every child exhibits fear of some kind. And parents must understand positively that this is quite normal.

Little children are very dependent on parents and feel inadequate to handle certain situations. They may imagine strange noises, scream at the shadows or be scared to death of ghosts. Most parents deal with it in two ways. “Oh, Akshay you aren’t afraid of that. Are you? or “Don’t act like a pussy. You aren’t a child anymore.” The pep talk and the shaming do more harm than good. Infact it adds to the agony of the child that he has to loose parental respect or love because of his fears. This couldn’t instil inner conflicts in the child.

Telling a child that its normal goes a long way towards solving this problem, “Its just normal. Even I was afraid of strange noises when I was young.” This reassures the child that his feelings aren’t abnormal. Better still hold his hands, take him onto you lap and calm him before trying to reason with his fears.

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal
- Henry Ford

Among the common fears in children is fear of separation. Since they are so dependent on parents, pre-schoolers often think their parents would leave them and go away. This may result in clinging to the mother, because she is the one who spends most of the time with the child. Parents may find it so irritating that they can’t go out even for a minute, leaving the child at home. Many parents compound this by threatening, “If you behave like t his one day I’ll leave you here and go out.” This will confirm to the child its fears that the parent will go away.

Instead one should comfort the child and later tell the child that you love it so much and you’re away just for an hour. And that you’d come back and play with her or take her to the garden. Psychologists say this is a deeper feeling than you think. Jealousy and rivalry with one the parents for the affection of t he other is often the actual cause. But, that is too complicated for most of us to understand.

Many children are scared of dogs. Much of this fear stems from parental instructions on dogs and at times a parent’s own fears are transmitted to the child. The best way to handle this would be to deal with it matter-of-factly. And put his anxieties to rest. Would getting a dog home actually calm his fears? Well, it may or may not. Since most of the time fear of dogs is just a manifestation of a deeper inner conflict.

Fear of darkness is a universal problem. Children may wet in their beds or wake up three to four times at night asking for water. Don’t be peeved or over-excited about this. Calm his nerves and put him to sleep. “There’s really nothing to worry dear.” Switch on the light for him to see. Leave the light on for some time to reassure him. A dim light would be advisable in the bedroom.

Starting to school and the arrival of a sibling at home creates fear in many children. Parents have to be understanding about the anxieties of the older child and not criticize or be judgemental about his feelings. Let the child be reassured that his feelings are perfectly normal. At the same time you should help the child realize that going to school is fun, so is having a younger brother or sister.