Fear is an important part of a child’s growth and development. It is a natural feeling that prepares to deal with danger.
Fear in a child is related to age, experience, learning and maturity. It is clearly defined and short-lived. Much of the fear disappears as the child grows.
To help your child overcome fear it is important to acknowledge common age-related fears:
- Newborn to 6 months– Fear in this age is reflexive in nature. It is related to loud music, movements, and unfamiliar things.
- 6 months to 9 months- Children of this age develop fears for unfamiliar objects and sounds such as masks, the sound of a vacuum cleaner, the mixer and anger tone. They may develop separation anxiety at not seeing parents for a long time.
- Toddlers– They develop powerful emotions, but are unable to handle them. Their imagination bubbles and they of fear of dark rooms, ghosts, scary noises, strangers, thieves, animals and going down the toilet drain. They also fear to lose their parents and to be left alone.
- 5 to 7 years– Senses of children of this age group are evolving and their fear becomes specific. They try to overcome fear, but they may still fear dark rooms, attic or garage. They get affected by movies that depict bloodshed, death, and violence. If your child is avoiding school, he may be suffering from fear of rejection and failure.
- Older children- Till this age, many fears disappear. Family and school atmosphere starts affecting children and they fear of separation of their parents and from friends.
To help your child in overcoming fear it is important to recognize signs of fear your child may displays. Following are the signs of fear:
- Nail biting
- Arms twitching
- Nervous movements of feet and hands.
- Passing urine unconsciously.
- Difficulty sleeping
- Thumb sucking
- Sweat on palms and forehead.
- Increased breathing and heart rate
- Nausea, stomachache, and headache
Every child is different and shows different signs. The intensity of fear also varies.
Steps parents should take to help a child in overcoming fear
- Accept child’s feelings- Never belittle or make fun of your child’s fear nor ignore him. Try to understand your child and recognize his fear.
- Pacify your child- Remain calm, hug and calm your child.
- Encourage conversation- Talk to your child. Let him express his feelings. Tell them about your fears and how you managed to come out of it.
- Establish a routine. Read stories positive moral stories. Encourage them to play, pray, Practice hobby and exercise.
- Check your behavior and actions as your child imitates you.
- Never force your child to act brave.
- Slowly let him get used to things or situation he fears.
- You can have a walk with your child to the dark place he is feared of. Talk to him about the thing that may cause shady images and sounds.
- Support your child. Show love, care and how important he is for you.
- Maintain a happy, peaceful and positive environment to help your child overcoming fear.
If child’s fear is not age specific it may affect his emotional, mental and physical development. It interferes daily routine and causes stress. If the fear gets focused and is extreme it is called as a phobia. Do meet child psychologist to treat phobias.