Monday, October 1st, 2012

Fight Against Fear

Fear is a common experience to many children. In fact, most children go through a period in their lives when fears disturb their peace of mind. This happens when their imagination begins to develop, while they don’t yet have the tools with which to neutralize and distinguish between reality and imagination. To understand how to master the impulse and to conquer fears in children, you must first understand the common causes and then call for action to handle it with care. Dr Vandana Tara Consultant Child Psychology at Moolchand the Medcity unravels many facts about fear and also shares 10 techniques to help your child fight fear. Read on…

WHAT DO CHILDREN FEAR

The objects and situations that children fear vary a good deal. When very young children show fear it can be hard to judge exactly what is causing it. Children between the ages of three and six; sometimes confuse reality, dreams and fantasy and get really scared out of almost nothing. Although this concept prevails that some intense fears are quite a natural developmental stage and will ease naturally but it is not safe to believe that everything that the child of this age fears is just something they will grow out.  Dr Tara jots down few common causes of fear in different age stage:

Age 2-4 years fear of animals, loud noises, being left alone, inconsistent discipline, toilet training, bath, bedtime, monsters and ghosts, bed wetting, disabled people.

Age 4-7 years fear darkness and imaginary creatures. Other fears of strangers are also seen in this group and it can be best called as ‘shyness’. Children at this age may also fear loss of a parent, death, injury and divorce.

8 year- 10 years will probably have fragments of earlier fears but additional ones will tend to be more rationally based, which possibly includes fear being late for school, social rejection, criticism, adaptation and adoption, robbers, personal danger and fear blood and injury.

11 and 13 years usually fear animals, kidnapping, being alone in the dark and injections. Beyond this age boys lose their fears more readily than girls.

14-16 years face a wide range of rational or almost rational fears such as injury, terrorism, plane or car crashes, sexual relations, drug use, public speaking, school performance, crowds, gossip etc.

IDENTIFY THE SYMPTOMS

It’s important to know what the physical symptoms of stress look like, so they don’t scare you. They will go away if you don’t fight them:

  • Trembling or shaking
  • Pounding heart
  • Rapid breathing
  • Lump in throat; feeling choked up
  • Stomach tightening or churning
  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • Cold sweats
  • Racing thoughts

HOW TO FIGHT FEAR

There are very few ways in which you can actually fight fears. Unlike Harry Potter’s world where most fears take on physical form (a dementor or a spider) can be fought. But if your fear is not tangible and you need to beat the fear of heights or fear of shadows, then it can only be tempered, faced, and lived with. Mastering this impulse is the only key to deal with fears tells Dr Tara.

PLAY THE PARENT POWER 

Although as children grow older, their fears gradually decrease and eventually disappear, but in certain cases it persists forever. So as a parent follow these tips to help you kid overcome fears.

 Listen to your child. Having your child talk about her fears is a good way to face the fear. Often, just by exploring their fears, without anyone looking for a solution, it will allow the fear to evaporate into nothingness. Talking also helps to bring the hidden fears out of the darkness and into the open which enables the child to deal with them better.

 Draw the fear. Sit down with your child and ask her to draw her fear on a piece of paper. Giving the fear a shape and color removes the mystique and helps the child get a handle on them.

 Use relaxation techniques. Teach your child to relax her body as she relaxes her mind. She can gradually tighten and loosen her muscles from head to toe promoting a relaxed state. Show her as well, how she can use the same imagination that makes her scared, to make her relaxed. Help her imagine vivid visions of happy occasions, such as her birthday party, and to peacefully allow those images to pass over her as though she were watching a movie. She can also focus her mind on specific scenes that she finds relaxing, like twinkling stars or a peaceful pond – perhaps graced by a beautiful swan; gushing waterfalls, the sound of the water streaming down a slope, the warmth of the sun on her face, as she takes a deep breath and allows herself to relax.

 Night lamp and tape recorder. At night when it is dark, switching on a night light can help your child avoid added scary images. During the day, when alone, a tape recorder with some music or storytelling may help serve as a companion of sorts.

 Monitor input content. Keep your child from watching or reading frightening shows and story books with a lot of terror or violence. Choose books with inspirational, uplifting stories and stories about children conquering their fears.

 Have the child repeat a calming sentence or verse over and over again. Any sentence could work, for instance, “I am safe at all times.” Or, “He will command His angels to guard you in all your ways. You can have your child think about the words and their meaning while saying them.

If your child’s fears persist and interfere with his daily activities you might like to seek professional help from a child psychologist.

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