And it was the final nail in the coffin. After all these trainings and encouragements about taking that damn slide, the young lad was unable to go down that lovely body.
You pointed to other kids who were having the slide. How happy they were! You made him lose hold on the sides. And he went down, enjoying. And next time it was an issue, again. You even threatened him to go down the slide by himself, or you won’t bring him to the park next time.
And he responded by not going down the slide.
You are concerned. And, believe me! You have every right to be concerned. Your child is unable to have fun in situations where other kids are shrieking with fun. What can you do to build up your child’s confidence? There must be some way out of it, right?
Although children differ in the time they develop their intelligence, there is still a lot; parents can contribute to overcoming developmental hurdles. Try uplifting your child’s fears systematically before deciding to wait for the right time when your child is ready to outgrow his phobias.
Yes I know she is afraid, but her fears are pointless. You would say.
And you are again right. The fears your child is suffering from are pointless and unrealistic if you look at them from an adult perspective. These phobias are terrifying and cruel when seen from a preschooler’s perspective.
They need you to be their ally against fear. Tell them you are with to fight the fears which are real for them.
You can go a step further for validating their fears by telling them how these fears are common among other children of their age. Make sure to avoid making remarks which underestimate their courage and highlight them as some special case.
Remember that, invalidated fears may prompt your child to think they are unheard and un-cared-for, meaning that there is no buffer between them and their fears. This feeling of loneliness will make them question their sanity and will only elevate their issues.
By validating their fears, you are asking them to accept and be content with these fears.
This contentment may appear a big contradiction to our goal of fighting against childhood fears, but it is not. Acknowledging fears and naming them helps your child to categorize these fears as known versus unknown, resulting in a reduction of intensity attached with these fears.
Once they have understood that fear is a valid emotion, the energy they would waste on describing these issues and getting validation would be free to be implemented in positive ways. You can encourage them to have fun and focus on nourishing emotions. It wouldn’t ease their fears but will provide a meaningful distraction and supply of strength to fight against them.
This strength will enable them to develop other factors of their personalities independent of fear. And this part of their personality will help them develop their confidence in themselves enabling them to look at fear as a small fraction of their whole personality rather than their controlling belief.
Remember there was a time your kids were learning to walk. They would put one foot in front of other, balance themselves then put another in front. Sometimes they fell, sometimes they kept the balance. Regardless of the number of times they fell, they never developed fear against the act of walking. Why? Not because they weren’t hurt. Not because they know they would make it next time. But because the action of walking on their own was so appealing that they just couldn’t resist the temptation to try again.
In their process of learning to walk, they overcame negative emotion of fear with the positive emotion of curiosity. In fact, curiosity is the opposite of fear, and only this tool a child, and any other person, can use to defeat fear. So, start with introducing the milder fun activities related to their fear and progress to telling the fun side of their fears.
For example, if your child is afraid of heights, start by making them swing to heights (only if they enjoy swinging). Then narrate the bird-eye view of their favorite building or part. Avoid telling fantasy-based theories as it will distort their perceptions of reality and decrease their trust in you and in the stories you are telling them.
Set Clear Boundaries and Communicate
But you know your kids don’t like boundaries much. You enforce boundaries, and they try their best to thrash them. They really don’t like boundaries. Yet, setting boundaries can help them trust their surround and get rid of their fears. Sounds ironic, right?
Here is how it goes.
You set a boundary, suppose, by asking them to not jumping on the couch.
They want to override the boundary keeping up with their ongoing activity.
You sit them down and tell them how this activity might hurt them.
They may or may not abide by your boundary, and you sought compliance through distracting them from activity or making them sit still for some time.
They hate you for erecting boundaries.
Later your kids learn, from a relevant experience or their friends or cousins, the hazards of their activity and, in the end, they learn their lesson.
But with this lesson comes an understanding that you speak of their benefit. And with understanding comes the trust that you are looking out for them. You are taking care of their every move. There is no point of fear because, before them, you will notice an aggressive stimulus coming their way.
So erect boundaries to let them trust you.
Look Inside You
There can be many causes of fears among children, and most of them relate to the environment which is bringing them up. Children rarely develop irrational phobias without getting triggered from the environment. It means that, although children can develop age-appropriate fears of darkness, monsters, and studies, there is minimal chance that they would develop age-inappropriate fears out of nothing. There must be a reason behind them not wanting to step inside their school premises, and there is a hidden trauma they are bearing which is shunning them from social activities.
Strengthen your bond with your child to understand what root-cause of their fear is. Engage in heart-to-heart conversation with them to know what interests them most, what nourishes them, and what their deterrents are. A routine as simple as a candid conversation can nourish their emotional immunity considerably.
What do you think?
Being one of the biggest roles of a person’s life, parenting has a lot of room for learning and growth. Our children’s unique needs and strengths enlighten unseen but beautiful parts of our, as well as their, lives. Learn what the nature is teaching us through our children and grow.