Fear is a natural emotion just like happiness, surprise, sadness, and regret. When dealing with fear, the key is to first recognize and label it and then understand where it might be coming from. For children, this may be difficult to do on their own because their brains are still developing. They are still learning how to cope and manage their emotions so your child will need support in getting past their fears. The Child Mind Institute offers some really simple strategies you can use to help your child manage fear in the face of new experiences and challenges:
- Help your child talk about what’s frightening him. Kids may know what they’re scared of, but they don’t always have the words to explain. Asking specific questions can help.
- Validate, then move on. Once you know what the fear is, let your child know you’re taking it, and them, seriously. Once you’ve offered reassurance it’s important to move on quickly.
- Make a plan. Work with your child to set reasonable goals. Once you’ve set the goal, talk through the steps you’ll take to reach it, and be patient.
- Offer encouragement, and be patient. Finally, parents should remember that change takes time, and fear is a very powerful feeling. Stay consistent and praise your child’s hard work. Let your child know you think he can tackle his fears, even if he isn’t so sure yet. “Saying things like, “You’ve got this!” or, “You’re being so brave!” can help your child feel more confident.”
By doing these things, you are teaching your child that fear does not have to stifle growth. It does not have to stop them from living and learning something new. Fear is healthy and learning how to get past the fear will foster personal growth for years to come. Sometimes, helping our children overcome fears can be difficult on our own, but with the guidance of a professional, it is possible to get them the help they need.