Childhood fears and anxiety are not only common, but expected throughout all developmental stages
Meeting strangers, going to school for the first time, or writing a test are all examples of situations which can trigger feelings of apprehension, fear and panic in children.
This article looks at some common fears and how you can help your child navigate through them
Newborn babies and infants (0-2 years old) tend to prefer their parents and primary caregivers over unfamiliar voices and faces. Children this age often experience stranger and separation anxiety – where they shy away from, or are afraid of people they do not know.
Things that can help include:
- Comforting and soothing your child to make them feel safe
- Helping them get to know other people in your presence
- Teaching them that separation from you is temporary (peek-a-boo is a great game to teach this!)
- Saying goodbye to your child instead of “running away” when they are distracted – you do not want to cause trust issues
Toddlers and pre-schoolers (3-6 years old) have a very active imagination and often make up wild and exaggerated scenarios in their little minds. They tend to worry about being separated from their parents, the dark, nightmares, monsters, bad guys and animal attacks, among other things.
Alleviate your child’s fears by:
- Listening to what they are scared of and helping them put their fear into words or pictures
- Helping your child face their fears (e.g. shopping for a nightlight together or searching for monsters before bedtime)
- Reassuring your child of real-life facts (e.g. there are policemen who protect us from bad guys)
Positively reinforcing the courage and bravery that they show
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“Reprinted from All 4 Woman”