Every child, no matter what age, is going to have some fears. Some fears may be rational and some may be irrational, but it is completely normal for a child to be fearful or to experience anxiety about certain things.
As parents, it is our job to help our children overcome their fears and anxiety. To do that, we need to understand what types of fears our children might be experiencing. Children from ages 4 to 6 have fears that are typically irrational, which means they are afraid of monsters.
This is understandable because lets be honest, who wasn’t afraid of a monster in their closet or some creepy critter hiding under their bed? Children from ages 7 to 12, typically have more rational fears(*). This means that their fears are more realistic, such as a fear of thunderstorms or falling off their bike and getting hurt.
Who feels exhausted in the morning because your child is constantly waking up in the middle of the night from a bad dream? It happens to the best of us but this problem can be solved. We can help our children face their fears.
First, it’s essential that we understand how powerful words can be in helping children overcome their fears. Talking through whatever is scaring your child will make the fear less stressful and that is a great first step. We must be sure to only use words in a positive way. Using our words to belittle the child’s fear would not be beneficial.
Teaching children coping strategies is also another way to help them overcome their fears. Visualization is a very helpful strategy. If your child is afraid of a monster in her closet and it makes it hard for her to sleep at night, try helping your child to relax and visualize that she is on a calming beach. Tell your child that all she has to do is “Change the TV Channel.”
Just like she would change the channel if there was something scary on the TV, she has to change the channel in her head.
Visualizing sand in between her toes and waves washing up on the shore is a much prettier picture than a monster in her closet!