Helping children deal with their fears

Anxiety and fear is a normal part of growing up. Read how to help your child when they are worried.

Parents often worry about their children's fears. Fear is a major thing for any child to cope with. You can help your child overcome their fears and give them confidence to deal with difficult situations that will happen.   
Young children will naturally become anxious of certain things or situations.When you have an infant or a toddler their biggest fears will generally be of strangers, loud noises and separation anxiety. If your child is experiencing separation anxiety, which can be felt at any stage, but in particular for young children, try If possible, help them to become familiar with new situation or carer while you are there. As it may take time, if you can, stay with the child and new carer until they can feel safe and comfortable to be with that person on their own.
Once they hit preschool age the fears might grow to being afraid of the dark or noise at night (that awakens them from slumber) as well as monsters and animals. A child being afraid of the dark is very common and you can help your child by making sure they have a night light beside the bed. Consider giving your tot a little torch under their pillow so they can access it quickly if they feel alarmed. By doing this you are understanding their fear by offering solutions but also not catering to the fear by leaving all the lights on in their bedroom. 
School age children are more aware of the world around them and the dangers that put them at risk, at this age there is a huge sense of realism setting in. Children start to watch television and can understand what is being said on the news. Snakes, spiders, dogs, getting injured or sick and even school can cause fear in the most confident of kids. 
As part of the treatment plan for phobias, many therapists suggest exposing your child to their fear in small, nonthreatening doses.  It is good to talk about your child’s fear with them initially, try to get them to face fears in a safe environment and under your supervision.. If your child is terrified of dogs you can ask a dog owner (with a friendly well behaved doggy) to help you introduce your child and the dog. Initially taking it very slowly, maybe looking at the dog and talking about the dog wagging its tail. Eventually, when they are ready, they could move to touching the dog. This can move over time, to you sitting beside them and the dog. Finally, the child should be able to expose themselves to situations with dogs they are not familiar with. It is important however not to rush the process and work at a pace that your child is comfortable with. It may take some time. Reward efforts of dealing with their fear and praise them for being brave
While fears are entirely normal for any child, as a parent you can help your child to confront any fears and teach them ways of coping with what they are not comfortable with.
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