Oh, fears. It is natural for people to be afraid of things. Heck, I am still afraid of bugs and am about to turn 32 so I have no room to talk. A cricket jumps at me and you will think I am being murdered. My husband is afraid of heights, meanwhile I went skydiving a few weeks ago. Totally awesome by the way, I highly recommend it even though my friends think I am crazy.
My son has some fears that we (more so my husband, I guess because he is a man) think are a little silly or ridiculous. One thing he was afraid of until about a week ago was putting his head under water, which you may have read about a little here. The most recent thing is riding a bike. The thing we need to remember, though, is that it is a real fear for him. There are many ways to help your child or children overcome their fears.
- Recognize that the fear is real, no matter how ridiculous it may seem. When kids get older they start to be more perceptive and I think this is why our son is afraid of the bike. He can picture the end result of getting injured. Couple that with my worrisome personality, and you have a fearful child.
- Be supportive. It is so easy to get frustrated quickly when our child is afraid of something or someone. Try not to do this. Tell them that you understand they are afraid but you are right there with them and everything will be fine.
- Don’t belittle or dismiss the fear. If you tell your child they are being silly, that may make them not talk about it anymore but it will not take the fear away. The thing you are teaching your child by being dismissive is to not talk to you. I don’t think you want that when it comes to teenage years, if you know what I mean. 😉
- Teach them positive affirmation. It never hurts to tell yourself you are doing a great job. Use this with your child. Have them say things like, “I can do this,” or “I am brave.”
- Take baby steps. Let’s say your child is afraid of dogs. Take a small step of going to a pet store and simply look in the window. Once your child can do that without getting upset, go inside next and observe the dogs. Don’t push them right into touching them or you will undo all your work.
- Be transparent. Tell your child about your own fears. Tell them how you overcome them. Even get family members involved that they look up to, to tell them their own stories about fear.
With all of the above being said, there is a difference between a fear and a phobia. A phobia can cause major distress and you should definitely be aware if this is what is happening. Should your child have any phobias that cause this amount of emotional stress, please seek out a counselor.
Hopefully these techniques will work with my son when we push him to ride his bike some more. I also hope that seeing his friends ride will help as well.
If your child has had any fears, share them in the comments and let us know how you helped them to overcome it.