Friday, September 23, 2016

Overcoming fear in children - A guide for parents

The famous Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, once wrote, "Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most." If you find yourself in this position, quailing on the threshold of something new, take heart, for you are not alone in your fear. Be inspired by the knowledge that others have conquered fears before you. Venture bravely into the unknown.

Dostoyevsky's words are relevant to all age groups but are increasingly even more apt for children.
Fear and anxiety is not uncommon in children especially with the start of a new school year (as mentioned in the article below)

Here are five suggestions for parents to help their child deal with fears and anxieties:

1. Address fear and anxiety - Sometimes children are afraid of situations or objects that adults don't find threatening. Encourage your child to face his or her fears and not run away from it. They need to be reminded that, "What you resist, persists." Instead of resisting the problem, acknowledge it's presence and label the fear. If a fear can't be articulated, it can't be conquered. 

2. Analyze the fear - Help your child to identify the trigger or cue for a fear and action that feeds to the fear. Where does it come from? Is it triggered by a specific object/ situation? Additionally, help your child recognize his or her body symptoms and help the child understand the connection between mind and body. Very often, analyzing the fear may loosen it's grip on your child.

3. Don't cater to the fear - Help your child by taking their fears seriously and by encouraging him or her to talk about his or her feelings. But do not cater to their fears lest they will be reinforced. 

4 Empower children with coping mechanisms - Brain storm with your child to see what calms him or her. Try out various methods to cope such as deep breathing, guided imagery, visualization meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, a silent walk to introspect. Train your child in positive self talk so that he or she feels empowered to take control of the situations life brings along.

5. Build self confidence and esteem. - Do not solve the problem for your child. Instead, validate your child's emotions, understand and empathize with your child's experience and help your child to problem solve. Encourage your child to act in spite of the fear and take it as a challenge for personal growth. All along this journey, remind your child that you've got his or back and be your child's biggest cheerleader. 

The key is to help your child face his or hear fears. As Robin Sharma said, "The fears we don't face become our limits." Let's aim for a limitless world for our children.