Fear is a normal part of being human, and every child feels fear from time to time. The reason could be anything from darkness to the monster in a cartoon or the fear of being alone.
These examples may seem silly to adults, but they can make children feel out of control or anxious. It becomes more serious when the child’s fear or anxiety persists for a long time.
Here, we discuss the reasons for and signs of childhood fear and ways to overcome it, as recommended by the experts at our Montessori daycare school in Markham.
What Is the Reason Behind a Child’s Fear
Fear is one of the most primitive emotions we experience. It originates in a small part of our brain called the amygdala.
One of the main reasons children get scared is because of fear of change. After all, childhood is a transitional period when they interact with many new people who are not part of their family. Daycare is likely the first time they are away from their parents for a significant amount of time. So, they have to do many things they haven’t done before that can sow seeds of fear in their minds.
Signs That Your Child May Be Fearful
These are signs that your child may be experiencing fear:
- They are scared of specific people, places, or things.
- They don’t want to experience new things, even after being reassured that it is okay and will be fun.
- They have trouble separating from their parents, such as when going to school.
- They don’t want their parents to travel.
- They have a hard time falling asleep.
- They experience nightmares or are afraid at night.
- Sports, stories, music, or other exciting activities don’t excite them.
- They ask if the same bad thing they experience could happen again.
Talk to Your Child About the Reason for Their Fear
To help your child deal with their fear, you must first know the reason for it. Instead of assuming the reason, ask them about it. Create an atmosphere where they don’t feel judged. Try to give them an opening to tell you what is bothering them. Some of the common fears children experience are:
- Being alone
- Water (like a bathtub)
- Getting hurt or sick
- Receiving an injection
- Imaginary monsters like witches, vampires, and ghosts.
Give them space and time to talk about their fears. You can tell them that fear is a normal emotion like joy or sorrow. You don’t have to minimize their fear, but you can combine acknowledging fears with general questions so they don’t feel heard of or alone. This can give you a clearer idea of how to help them work through it.
Validate Their Feelings
Sometimes children have imaginary fears that are very real to them. Don’t push them away by saying what scares them is unreal. They will not only feel ignored and alone but may also stop sharing their feelings with you. If you want your child to get over that fear, you need to handle the situation delicately. Listen to them, validate their feelings, and make sure they feel safe. Once you’ve offered reassurance, move on. Start discussing how you will work together to get over the situation and reach a point where they can manage the fear by themselves.
Establish a Plan
If your child’s fear keeps recurring, you need to create a plan to deal with it. For example, if they are scared of the dark and it’s bedtime, offer to leave on a small light to make them feel safer. So, the plan can be like this:
- Identify the root of the fear.
- Educate your child about it.
- Give them a solution to deal with.
- Once they succeed, encourage and praise them.
Lastly, you have to be really patient when dealing with this situation as change does not come overnight. You may have to walk your child through the same situation or talk about a similar situation over and over again until they get where you need to be. Don’t force your child to confront their fears before they are ready. Instead, be patient, empathetic and let them confront their fears at their own pace.
On the other hand, don’t overindulge their fear, which may turn it into a more concrete belief. Keep taking small steps until they feel comfortable and confident.
Teaching your child how to overcome their fears can be challenging, but it is essential for their future growth and development. It will make your child feel more independent, confident, and in control of their lives. Try to make the process enjoyable as you work with them. You can even ask for help from the teachers at our Markham Montessori school to overcome your child’s fears and manage their worries.