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5 Parenting Tips ~ How to Help Your Child Overcome Fear

By Jean Tracy, MSS

Fears paralyze children. If your child has one fear or many, keep reading. Find out what you can do.

Fear in children is normal. But when your child surrenders to imagined fears, you need to help.

True Story with Words to Avoid When Your Child Is Afraid:

Dalton, 6, and his dad were in the kitchen preparing to have a snack. Dad asked Dalton to hand him a container of yogurt. When Dalton produced cherry flavored yogurt, his dad, said, "I don't really like cherry. How about bringing me a different flavor?"

Dalton turned to his dad and said, "Suck it up! Get over it! Be a man! That's what you always tell me." – a Kidwarmer

If your child is scared, "Suck it up! Get over it! Be a man!" are definitely words to avoid.

When children retreat into their fears, they cry. They refuse do things alone. They turn on the light. Your job is to turn on the light in their young minds. Give them courage to "see" the fear is harmless.

How Some Fears Start:

Let's say Max, the neighbor boy, loves to scare your son, Brent. Beetles are Max's weapon of choice. Black beetles with hard shiny backs and fast crawling legs. Max calls out, "Hey, Brent, come here!" He tosses the beetle at Brent.

Brent runs home screaming. Max laughs and yells, "You big baby!" Brent's fear of beetles, bugs, and spiders has just begun. What can you do?

5 Parenting Tips for Helping Your Child Overcome Fear:

1. Be patient. Like parents of children who fear the dark, you must take tiny steps. Don't push your child to race beyond his courage. Go slow. Do the following activities on different days.

2. Draw the fear. Tell Brent, "Let's draw bugs together." Congratulate him. Touch the bugs in his drawings. Ask him if anything happened when you touched them? Then ask him to touch the bugs. Congratulate him again.

3. Read about bugs together. When you're done reading, ask Brent to touch the pictures of the realistic bugs in the book. Don't push him. If he touches them, congratulate him for being brave.

4. Find some real bugs to examine. Ask Brent, "What do you notice about these bugs? Do you think they are afraid of you? Who's bigger?" Check out more bugs too.

5. Pick up a harmless looking bug. Ask Brent if he'd like to hold it too. Congratulate him when he does.

Brent may never likebugs. But because you helped him overcome his fear, he will tolerate them. He won't be called a "Baby!" He won't run home screaming either.

Conclusion for Helping Your Child Overcome Fear:

Never put your child down because of his fears. He doesn't need to hear, "Suck it up. Get over it. Be a man."

Be patient. Take tiny steps.

Find out your child's raw spots. Find out how the fear started. Find out what truly upsets him. Learn what he thinks is the worst thing that will happen. Then ask yourself, ‘How can I create tiny steps to help him "see" for himself the fear is harmless?' This is your power and your privilege. You can give your child the courage to see through his fears.

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Jean Tracy, MSS publishes a Free Parenting Newsletter. Get yours at www.KidsDiscuss.com

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