Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How to respond to fear

What can you do when your child is scared?  First of all know that fear is a normal and healthy response to a percieved threat.  So for the child, any fear is real since the emotion is real.  But he or she needs help with how to cope since most children are not able to calm themselves down.  It doesn't matter to the child whether you as an adult believe the fear is worthy or even real.  Fear of bees, monsters, a scary donkey in a dream, or a small friendly pet is all the same emotion to a child.

Here are some ideas of how to help your child cope with immediate fear:
  • Physical comfort: hugs, cuddling or even holding hands.
  • Be calm yourself.  Children easily pick up on your emotions, so do your best to be confident and sure that this can be overcome.
  • Remove the child from the scary situation if necessary, at least temporarily.
Depending on the age of your child, you can try some of these techniques for processing scary emotions and to come up with a plan for the future:
  • Ask your child for possible solutions.  You might be surprised by what they can think of that could actually work.
  • Ask the child to draw what is scary.
  • Tell your child a story, either from a book on the subject, or create your own story where the child in the story overcomes the fear.
  • An older child can write a story about it and possible solutions.
  • Role play about how to handle the situation in the future.
  • Teach the child to surround him or herself with protective light.  This does not have to be complicated or difficult.  You can ask the child to imagine light surrounding him or her and suggest to the child that this light will make the child feel safe. 
  • Teach the child that he or she has the right to say no.

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