Fear, when not addressed and left to spread out of control, can be extremely detrimental to anyone, but especially a child. Learning to face fears early in life can make a difference in success in school, work and beyond. Here are a few ways that parents can help their children conquer their own fears and gain confidence in the process!
Encourage Your Child to Face Their Fears
There may be little in your life as challenging as trying to convince your child to overcome their fears. Just like many of us, they are perfectly happy to leave their fears alone, right where they’re at. In fact, they may even find it’s more appealing to run away from their fears, but that is never the answer. It seems perfectly logical, but it is important for you to explain to them all the amazing adventures they may miss out on if they decide to run away from, rather than tackle their fear. Encourage them to share their feelings by offering your own experience with fear. Admitting fear is the first step in conquering it. Take a positive approach and make it attractive for the child to conquer their fear; let them know how much they can accomplish once their fear is behind them.
Acknowledge That It’s Not Easy to Face Your Fears
Let your child know that you understand how difficult it can be to face your fears. Don’t push too hard or belittle them, but support them through their attempt to break through. Kids can be particularly cruel when it comes to fears, giving one another a hard time, which can cause shame for many children when it comes to being afraid of something. Remember that their fear, no matter what it may be, is very real to your child. Regardless of how small or irrational you may find their fear, acknowledge it as legitimate and help them take the first step. Let your child know you believe in him/her so they are able in turn to have confidence in their own ability.
Avoid Nightmare Situations with Healthy Bedtime Habits
Nightmares are an imagined cause of real fears. Though it seems like an arena you have no control over, you would be surprised how little changes can help turn bad dreams into good. If you have issues with your child waking during the night, these tips can help with that as well. Avoid naps during the day so restful and full stages of REM sleep can occur. No snacks close to bedtime, even health foods too close to sleep can cause nightmares to surface and poor sleep habits to develop. Sugar should not be an option for several hours before bed, and even then it should be limited. Using a nightlight can help ease your child to sleep in a comfortable atmosphere so they are able to fall asleep with less stress. Practice these habits consistently and you will chase that bogeyman right out of their life!
Conquer the Physical Response to Fear
Children work well with hard facts. When a child has a stress response to a fear, all they know is the feeling, not the reason behind it. Teaching a child what is happening to them physically when they are afraid can help them make sense of the panic and anxiety that comes along with fear. Explaining the fight or flight response to scary situations will make the feeling more tangible and more easily controllable. Adrenaline response helps to conquer fear, though it feels pretty freaky to a kid, even afterward. In hindsight even that in itself can be scary, so make sure to include this adrenaline in your discussion as well. Here are some tips that should help:
• Worrying makes fear worse, so if your child can learn relaxation exercises and deep, therapeutic breathing to calm down it will go a long way to helping them control their fear response.
• Have them practice switching negative thoughts to positive thoughts so they are able to do so when the time is right.
Help Stare Down Fears Head On for Major Confidence Building
To overcome fears, they actually have to be faced down. Never encountering fear would make life pretty dull. There is something to the saying, “No risk, no reward.” Facing a challenge and overcoming it is one of the best feelings one can have. It’s always easier to conquer fears with a partner and support. Let your child know they don’t have to do it alone. It is important to note that facing a fear and getting past it doesn’t necessarily mean that the fear goes away, but can make it easier to Face Fear without Freaking Out!
Facing fears is one of the hardest things to do, even for adults, and can be even more daunting for a child with an extra-active imagination. It is important that the challenge is undertaken with understanding and patience, as well as lots of love and support. For more tips and assistance on helping your child through other life challenges, click here! Help your child join our Kids Club for even more great resources.