Fear is an instinctive emotion of the human being. It is the reaction of our brain to what it considers a threat that could put us in danger. When we feel fear, our body becomes alert and prepares to hit or run if necessary. So be afraid It is a matter of survival.
However, terrors can become a problem if they are not controlled. If managing what we fear is a difficult task for adults, the effort is even greater for a child with fear. It is common for children between 3 and 6 years old to still not know how to differentiate between the real and the imaginary, they do not understand many things that happen around them, they are learning to understand their emotions ... It is normal for them to be afraid!
It is our task as parents to transmit tranquility and security to them, no matter how tired we are of fighting against the ferocious animals that hide in the closet or hunting the monsters that live under the bed. Even in those moments when you just want to find your pillow again, there are some phrases you should never say to a child with fear. Arm yourself with patience!
There are as many different fears as children: of the dark, of water, of storms, of animals ... But, no matter what your child's fear is, there are certain words that you should not use when your child is afraid. These are some of them.
1 "Do not be afraid"
Even if your main goal is precisely that, that your child stops being afraid, he will not stop feeling insecure no matter how much you repeat it over and over again (more and more angry, probably). As we explained to you, fear is a natural emotion of our mind, so it must be approached normally. Instead of this phrase, a child with fear will feel more comforted if you tell him that he is very brave.
2 "Your fear is foolish"
It is possible that, indeed, the reason why your little one is afraid is silly (a jacket over the chair that has taken on a strange shape or the terrifying noise your neighbor makes when walking). However, playing down what your child is feeling will make him understand that his emotions are silly and that, therefore, he should repress them. For this reason, it is necessary to value childhood terrors in their fair measure and listen to what they have to say. They will feel very understood when you tell them: "Yes, it is true that this is very scary."
3 "Are you really scared of that? Are you a coward? Aren't you ashamed?"
Never ridicule or laugh at your child's fears because they will feel even more insecure. Nobody likes to be made fun of yourself, especially when the reason for it is something that makes you tremble, so little by little your child will stop coming to you when they are afraid.
4 "Close your eyes and go back to sleep" (and you leave his room)
It is true that sometimes children have to be left to face their fears on their own but, especially at first, they need a little help. In these cases, talking with them for a while will help them stop thinking about what they were afraid of. Don't forget to give him a good hug, because it will help him feel better, relax and release dopamine, a hormone related to motivation and well-being.
5 "That injection is not going to hurt at all"
You know that this vaccine is going to hurt, because a puncture is not pleasant to anyone, but you do not gain anything by telling them that they will not hurt. One lie after another will stop trusting your word.
6 "As long as you continue like this, I'm going to get angry"
"I'm going to tell Dad / Mom so he can see how scary you are." Threats are not the best way to instill courage in your child, quite the contrary. Again, these phrases convey that fear is a negative emotion to be ashamed of, or worse, it makes you ashamed of it.
7 "What a little girl you are done!"
You may have ever heard an angry parent tell their child that they look like a girl because they are afraid. Since when is being afraid a thing for girls?
In addition to stopping using all of the above phrases, take note of the following tips to help your child deal with his fears.
- Tell him that you you will be by his side to help him overcome his fear, that you will protect him and that you will always support him. Ask him what you can do to make him feel better and always use positive language to boost his self-esteem.
- Avoid talking about things that you know will scare you before you have to expose yourself to it. For example, don't read a story about a child who drowns in the sea before going to the pool.
- Tell him:"What is fear like? Is it high or low? What color is it?" Sometimes it is very difficult to know what is causing so much fear in children because they themselves are not able to explain it in words. Knowing what is causing your insecurity will give you the key to know how you should help him overcome it. You can also ask him to draw you what scares him. By 'materializing' fear, it will cease to be an abstract entity that is very difficult to fight against.
- Help your child to face the situations that scare him, but carefully. Exposing them suddenly and unprepared can intensify your fears even more.
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