All people, regardless of age, have things which they are afraid of. Fear is the body’s natural reaction to stimulus that the subconscious sees as danger.
When a child under 16 years old has a feeling of anxiety or worries it is called children's fear. Every age has its own fears.
There are three stages of childhood fear:
Causes of childhood fear:
· Something has scared the child. This is the most basic reason. Perhaps, once, something frightened the child, for example: a sharp loud cry, some kind of scary scene, the bite of an animal or an insect, the experiences of parents.
· The child has a very strong imagination. For example, a child can imagine a monster or a beast when seeing a shadow on the wall from a crumpled blanket.
· Frequent arguments between parents may also be the cause of fear.
· The cause of fear can be quarrels with peers, quarrels with teachers and others and later it can turn into social phobia.
· Neurosis is also a cause of fear.
The types of fears:
· Night terrors;
· Obsessive fears;
· Unfounded fears;
· Unexplained fears;
How to understand that a child is afraid of something?
1. If the child sleeps restlessly, and during sleep they cry or scream, or if their sleep is accompanied by nightmares.
2. If the child is afraid of the dark.
3. If the child has difficulty falling asleep.
4. If the child has low self-esteem.
To avoid fears:
· Never scare a child intentionally in any situation.
· Never cover them alone in the room, especially if there is no light and the room is unfamiliar.
· Do not let to the child eat just before bedtime.
· When it is time to go to bed, the child should be in a pleasant mood.
· Do not purchase toys that are not age appropriate, do not allow them to watch cartoons or programs which include aggressive behavior.
How can you help the child overcome their fears?
- The most important thing is to understand the cause of the fears.
- Be sure to maintain routines. Create rituals before bedtime, for example, read a book.
- You could write fairy tales where evil heroes become good heroes.
- Prepare them for kindergarten or school in advance.
- Support them in everything, raise the child’s self-esteem.
- Children are big dreamers, invent fairy tales together, where the child is brave, strong, and include overcoming their fears in the narrative.
- Try to talk with your child as much as possible, ask them questions, so that the child can tell you more about their fears.
- Draw a picture of the child’s fear and then burn the drawing, you can keep drawing it until the fear disappears.
- Compose a fairy tale together, but make sure the end is positive. For example, have your child as the main character, who is a kind of superhero and defeats evil.
- You can make up a story, engage all family members and distribute all the roles, and in the end, as in the previous paragraph, the child is working to overcome their fear.
- If they are afraid of the dark, you have to speak about this fear too. Use an interesting night light that will be with the child, put a soft toy next to the bed and tell the child that you are always there. Tactile contact is very important as well.
- Games with sand helps to calm the nervous system; if it is not possible to play with sand at home, you can replace sand with semolina. This exercise strengthens the nervous system and eliminates fear.
- Gradually the mental state of the child will improve. You could put on classical music or sounds of nature at home, it is very relaxing.
- If your child doesn’t like to draw, you can replace this with modeling. Suggest building their fear, and then squash it into a ball.
- Make sure that all negative emotions come out. For example, allow a child to shout, laugh, run, and bang with something.
- Communication with peers also helps to fight fears. Other children being present in their environment makes it easier to cope with their problem.
In order to avoid children’s fears, prevention is very important. Never intimidate children with doctors, uncles, grandmothers, boogieman and such like. Allow the child to be themselves, read them positive and happy stories. Remain patient and calm, because only you can help your child to cope with and overcome their fears.