Fear and anxiety go hand in hand in making a child’s life a little more complicated. Whatever events have tragically happened, a child can experience severe stress that will increase their fear and anxiety, even at a very young age. In order to have a childhood that is free from any problems and worries, parents and guardians must provide proper care and support. As a parent, you can greatly help in your child’s coping mechanism when dealing with death, disasters and violence, otherwise your child’s coping mechanism will be to live incongruently and wear that invisible mask which makes them see the world not as it is, but as they are.
One of the best ways to ease the anxiety and fear of a child is to talk and listen to them. Learn about their concerns and explain to them that safety should always be the priority. Encouraging children to ask or share details of what they are concerned about is a way to eliminate fear in a child early on. Ask them how they have become affected in certain situations and explain why things may be happening that way. Children, even at a very young age, can identify some of the tragedies that are occurring and will occur. They may choose to react to them or understand them according to their developmental stage.
Below, I want to share with you 5 steps to help your child combat fear and anxiety.
- Ask. Do not be apprehensive when talking to your children. It is important that you know how they feel and what can they say about the situation that has occurred. If there is a death in the family, never let your child stay silent, because they could have been experiencing a certain unexplainable feeling that they can’t convey, as they may not have the right vocabulary. If left unsaid, this feeling can be absorbed by their body and they may develop some kind of emotion which will become a frustration when they grow up.
- Listen. It is not only important that you let the child talk, but let him speak. When you listen, you give your child the opportunity to be heard. Do not interrupt. Talk only when he is finished then try to explain what is happening. Address his fears and how much they are affected in the situation. If you can’t answer their questions, its alright to tell them that you don’t know. The important thing is that you have given them the opportunity to express how they feel.
- Bring yourself to their level. When you talk to them, make sure to use words that they will be able to understand. Using technical words will just confuse them, making it more difficult for the both of you to communicate.
- Know their fears and worries. Children tend to be frightened about monsters under their bed or inside their cupboards. Ask them what their fears are to help you understand your children better. Some common worries are because of school or with other children who might bully them.
- Give sufficient time. Time given to a child is more important than time given to your work or with peers. When a child shows you drawings, pay attention to how they have done it. This will give you a glimpse into how they are handling their current situation and what feelings they may have. Ask them about the picture and what were they thinking and feeling while drawing it. This will help you clarify questions, misconceptions and will give you assurance about your child’s mental health.
These 5 steps are a solid start to begin to better understand your children. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your child and how I can help, please do get in touch and I would be happy to set up some time to talk.