Helping your child be brave is one of the fundamental aspects of parenting. Children can be afraid of a wide variety of things – social interaction, trying new foods, scary books or movies, unfamiliar experiences… The list goes on and on. Here are some simple but powerful things you can do to help your child overcome fear.
Provide a Coping Mechanism
A lot of the time, kids become scared because of overactive imaginations. Common behaviors from a child with an overactive imagination (which is very common) might be becoming so scared of the dark or a nightmare that they ask to sleep with you in your bed. While an imagination is certainly not a bad thing, it can be helpful to provide small but meaningful ways to help them cope. Healthy distractions or activities that help your child feel empowered are very important. Having a special stuffed animal to help them face their fears, or sitting down to draw with them, or singing a song that makes them feel comforted can all be examples of good coping mechanisms for young children.
Sympathize With Them
While some adults may not realize it, kids are very intuitive. Without even meaning to, you can communicate habits and behaviors to them. All the more reason to sit down and communicate directly, in clear terms they understand, about important things that you want them to know. Talk to them about your own experiences being scared – and how you overcame it. Children will often be scared of certain things because of something else they went through. Some kids are fearful of the dentist because of previous experiences. But you could, for example, explain to your child that you used to be afraid of the dentist as well, until you realized it wasn’t all that scary and that he was helping your teeth.
Know When to Push, Know When to Respect Boundaries
Being a kid is hard. There’s a whole lot that you don’t understand and can’t do. Be gentle with your kids. Your goal here is to build trust. Know when the time is right to push them to face their fears, supporting them all the way. And conversely, know when to respect your child’s boundaries and let them say ‘no.’ Knowing the difference can be hard – but it is essential.
Parenting can be a thankless job. But the rewards can be incredible – a healthy relationship with a healthy, growing human individual who loves you because you gave your all into making them the best that they can be. So, face every parenting challenge head-on and without hesitation.
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