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Children's fear of the dark, monsters, storms and other phenomena can be difficult to overcome. There is no rhyme or reason for the fear to occur. A child isn't necessarily scared of storms because he was in a tornado, or the dark because she saw a monster. A child's fear is often created in his own mind, or may be the result of something seen on TV. You can help ease your child through his fears.
If you feel that your child's fear developed as a result of a TV program, sit down and watch the program with her. Explain what is real and what is fake. Young children can't distinguish between reality and fantasy. Try to monitor the programs she watches on TV, if the fears continue.
Ease children's fear of the dark by using a nightlight. When a child can't see beyond the darkness, he may be afraid of what is on the other side. A nightlight will illuminate the room and all the hidden corners. Before turning off the lights, let your child search the room to prove there is nothing scary hiding anywhere.
Children's fear of animals can be conquered by exposure. If your child is scared of dogs, start by exposing her to a small dog. Don't force the dog on her, but let her sit near it. When she becomes comfortable and begins to pet and interact with the dog, work your way up to a larger one. Take your time and be patient.
Sometimes, children's fear can be overcome by giving them a security item. Young children form attachments to blankets and stuffed toys. When your child gets scared, give him his security item and tell him to squeeze it tight. A security item can also ease separation anxiety in children. Many older children benefit from security items, though they may be something different, such as a picture of a parent.
Sometimes parents talking about their past fears helps to ease children's fear. Children feel encouragement when their parents can talk about fears that they were able to overcome. It shows your child that the fears will go away. Be open and honest about the things you were scared of. If you aren't ashamed of your fears, she won't be either.
Older children's fear may be overcome just by writing it down. Have your child keep a journal of his fear and assure him that no one will read it unless he asks. Ask him to write down how he thinks he can overcome his fear. Offer him advice on how to overcome it, if he is willing to share it with you.
Keep in mind that every child goes through stages where she is frightened of something. You can't make the fears go away, but you can help ease her through them. Be patient and kind. It may be frustrating and seem irrational, but in her mind, it is real.
@croydon - I'm a little bit torn over that to be honest. In some ways, I think that expressing fear through movies and games is a good way for children to get over their worry.
I don't remember who said it, but there is a famous quote that states that children don't need stories to tell them there are monsters. That's something they already know. They need the stories to tell them that monsters can be defeated.
I think, if you make sure the child knows that they can depend on you and you will always be there for them, they will feel more secure. And if they are given the tools to understand their fear and any potential dangers, they will learn how to overcome them.
@MrsPramm - I've noticed with my nephew that his fears often seem to be because of something he's seen on TV or in a video game. Unfortunately, his mother lets him watch whatever he wants and he often gets really scared from what he sees.
We generally can overcome this by reinforcing that it is only fantasy and that monsters and things don't really exist, but it's difficult when the danger is something like car accidents or violence, because it's not like we can tell him those things don't exist.
I think it's very rare that a child's fear is completely random. I mean, they might not be rational and they might not be easy to understand, but that doesn't mean the child doesn't have a reason to be afraid.
I know I only developed a fear of driving after my mother and I were in a car accident. It wasn't really the accident itself, although that was scary.
It was the reactions afterwards by the people around us who assumed that we were more seriously hurt than we actually were. It made it clear to me what the dangers of driving were and how the next time we might not be so lucky.
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