It is normal for children to have some fears, such as being without their parents, interacting with other children, fear of animals or insects, of the doctor, dentist or injections and even fear of riding a bicycle or swimming, due to the danger of falling or drowning, for example. example.
So it is important for parents to help their child overcome their fears by adopting some simple strategies, such as:
1. Help the child to understand the importance of facing his fears
Before helping your child overcome fear it is important that they realize that they will only succeed if they face it. Therefore, it should be said to the child that at first it can be scary and a little difficult, but that with practice he will feel less anxious and more secure, managing to face his fears.
2. Make a list of the child’s fears and put them in order
Together with the child, make a list of the situations, places, people or objects that they are afraid of and organize them from the least fear to the greatest for the child. This makes the child and the parent realize the child’s fears and their importance to him.
3. Build strategies to face the child’s fears
After the list of fears is made, create simple and initially easier and then more difficult strategies for the child to face their fears. For example, if your child is afraid to be away from you or to do things alone, strategies may be to stay at a friend’s house for 10 minutes, play alone for 15 minutes, or stay at a friend’s birthday party for 30 minutes. If your child is afraid to talk to colleagues, the strategies can be: first say “hi” to a colleague, then ask a friend a question and then talk about the weekend.
4. Implement the strategies
Apply the strategies, starting with the smallest fears and the easiest strategies. After the child is able to implement one strategy, move on to another and after he is able to face one fear, move on to another. At this stage it is important to train with the child before they implement the strategies, follow all the child’s steps and encourage them to feel safe and confident.
5. Reward the child
Every time the child is able to implement a strategy or face a fear, value his effort and encourage him, telling him that he is very proud and that “he knew he was going to make it”. For bigger fears that the child can face, you can give him a bigger reward, like the toy he wanted so much. For younger children, you can even make a poster of your progress, placing a star whenever she can reach a goal.
6. Have patience
This process to face fears takes time and each child is different, so it is important to remain calm, be patient and always reinforce the child’s courage so that he feels safe and confident.
Despite this, not every child who is afraid will be a fearful adult and afraid of everything. However, if the fears are not overcome, the child may have some difficulties in socializing, being alone or being close to animals, for example, and even having these fears as an adult.
Therefore, if fear begins to harm the life of the child or adolescent, a consultation with a child psychologist / psychiatrist is recommended to help you face your fears.
To encourage your child to face new challenges, see how to make your child a confident adult .