Children Learn What They Live #3

~ by Dorothy Law Nolte ~


Our children learn how to deal with their fears by observing how we deal with ours. They are the best "copycats," so let's give them a constructive example of acknowledging our concerns and findings creative solutions.

Kids don't always tell us when they're having problems. We need to take the time to ask our children how they're getting along with the other kids at school and in the neighborhood.

Fear undermines the supportive environment a child needs in order to grow, explore, and learn, leaving him with a general feeling of apprehension. We need to do what we can to bolster our children's confidence.

Find ways to help our child build confidence and certainty, and then watch her flower!

Our kids get more than enough exposure to frightening things from watching TV or movies. Monitor their viewing to minimize the development of unnecessary fears.

Vague, generalized fears are the hardest to deal with. Help your child explore how he might react in certain specific situations by having him imagine what he could do.

When fear is in the air, hug your child and let him know you are there for him. Warmth and closeness are part of feeling safe.

A fearful child needs patience and love, not a reprimand. This is true for both boys and girls.

Stay close to a fearful child, and evaluate the situation. How realistic is this fear? What approach will be the best one to guide and help her through it? Doing so not only gets her through this situation, it shows her how to calmly face other situations in the future.

One of the biggest fears children have is about losing a parent. In times of serious illness or marital separation, children need plenty of extra reassurance. Stay close and be ready to offer comfort.

Fear produces hesitancy and uncertainty - not a good recipe for being confident. Teach your children how to overcome their natural fears, and turn potentially bad experiences into good ones.

A steady diet of fearfulness leads to a hesitancy to try new things. Give your child the support she needs to be open to learning something new.

When a child is fearful, see if you can help him explore creative ways to deal with the situation. A flashlight in his bed if he's afraid of the dark or a favorite toy in his pocket when he goes off to preschool can help a lot.

Finding out whether your child's fear is realistic or imagined is one way of becoming closer to her. You may be surprised at what you learn when you ask her open-ended questions ("What is it about ___ that scare you?")

Fear does have a purpose - to protect. Help your child learn how to examine and understand her fears - and find a way to use them constructively.

Realistic fear is not to be avoided. Rather, it's an opportunity to gather resources and mobilize courage.

We want our children to be careful, not fearful. Don't use scary movies to warn them of possible dangers. Instead, give them clear instructions about how they can handle threatening situations.

In a new situation, a warm hug can pave the way for a more relaxed approach. Sometimes just knowing we understand how hard it is for them can help our children overcome hurdles.

Let your child know it's okay to feel afraid and that you're there to help him work through his fears. Your confidence that his fears can be overcome helps him find the strength he needs to do so.

When a child conquers fear, he deserves to be congratulated. Don't minimize his accomplishment, or take it for granted.

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