Many children experience a variety of fears. Everything from imaginary monsters to images on television can evoke anxiety. Here are creative ways to help relieve some common childhood fears.
Fear of imaginary monsters or villains
Clarify the difference between fact and fiction with your child. One way to do this is found in the preschool activity in the article “God’s Word is True.” Another idea is to go on a monster hunt. Chris Brack says, “Toddlers have an overwhelming fear of monsters. When the wind howls or they enter a dark basement, they are often scared. You can turn fear into fun by going on a monster hunt. Rainy or windy days are ideal to search areas where they think a monster could hide. With lights on and laughter abundant, search the area together. At every spot, assure them, ‘There are no monsters here, because monsters don’t live here.’ ”
Fear of natural phenomena such as thunderstorms
Comfort your child, letting him know he will be OK. Explain why thunderstorms and other such natural phenomena occur. One of the best ways to do this is through the use of a picture book that explains what is happening without scaring the child. Reading a book together gives you one-on-one time with your child and your child a basis for his knowledge surrounded by your comforting presence.
Fear of the dark
Gradually lower the lighting in your child’s bedroom, or simply let your child decide on her own when she feels she is ready to turn off the lights. You can also use nightlights and glow-in-the-dark decorations of his choice to help your child get used to the darkness.
Fear of separation from parents
If your child has a tendency to feel panicked after he is introduced to a new social event, ease into the event, allowing time for your child to get acquainted with his surroundings. Gently separate yourself from your child by setting playdates or leaving her with a family member. Every time your child responds positively to these times of separation, praise her progress. Then take the time to listen to what she fears when you’re not present, and reassure her that you’ve left her in capable hands.
This article first appeared in the Early Stages edition of the December 2004/January 2005 issue of the Focus on Your Child newsletters and was originally titled “Is It the Boogie Man?” Copyright © 2004 Focus on the Family. ThrivingFamily.com.