It is not unusual for school-going children to start off on a phase where they become fearful. As a parent, we have to face our child’s fear and help her do the same. When your child starts her schooling, she also starts becoming aware of diverse situations. This is the time when she gets exposed to various environmental stimuli. With so much of new exposures the child starts developing fear and anxiety towards certain situations where she feels uncomfortable. However, it is interesting to note that instead of becoming fearless, your child will show age-appropriate fears. Common fears such as fear of the dark may start to go down and other types of fears start to make an impact on her.
Fear & Anxiety in school-age children (6 to 10 years)
As your child enters school, she learns new things, and her related fears and anxieties tend to grow more subjective, than being objective. Now you will find your child’s fears to be due to social situations, performance evaluation, criticism, failure, punishment, threat, physical harm rather than something she saw in the environment–TV etc. or random monsters etc. Your child during this phase, shall not only show fear of certain things–such as fear of going outside–but might worry a lot about certain incidences. This affirms that your child has started thinking critically, and her fears are no longer limited to objects and environmental stimulus. Rather the fear is getting diverted to the personal self.
How to remove child’s fear from her mind
Here are some ideas on how to help your child overcome her fears.
- Don’t make it unheard – Your child tends to be more sensitive during her early school days; this is the time when self esteem and confidence develops within her; hence assure her that you take her fear and anxiety seriously. For example, never say to your child that her fears are meaningless and she is making herself a fool to believe in them. Connect with her emotionally first and then try to find a solution together.
- Honest information – Give your child truthful, logical and age appropriate information about objects and situations. For example, when your child is afraid of criticism assure her that she must try her best without fearing the outcome. Tell her “You are doing great, and you can do even better, just focus and have faith on self.”
- Help facing fears – Allow your child to face her fear and anxiety by giving self explanations to them. When your child talks about her fears, she herself gets to know her weak points, and this helps her to seek solutions to overcome them. This will help you also be constructive towards your child’s fear.
- Guide to confront – Teach your child to control her fears and anxieties by confronting them actively. In any situation, where you want your child to overcome her fear, supervise her to do so. This will help her feel secure.
- Discourage escapism – If your child is afraid of any exam, she might fall sick on the exam day. Motivate your child to go and face the exam, no matter what the outcome turns out to be. Accompany your child and be physically present in the school premise while she gives exam, then take her back to home. Don’t talk about the exam after that, just let your child relax and carry on with normal activities then. Also, do not ridicule by calling her a scared kid or names. Do not brand her by saying ‘My child is afraid of everything’. Rather be positive in your statements.
- Visual examples – Watching animated movies together–parents helping children overcome fears–can help boost confidence in your child. There are many child-centric movies that talk about parenting and how children overcome their fears playfully. Baby’s Day Out, Lion King, Inside Out, Good Dinosaur are some good ones. You can watch these movies with your child and have a great family time together. Alternatively, you could read out stories on childrens’ book about fear and tell her brave stories from it. You may also get an insight into why a child’s fear are real sometimes to their own minds.
- Healthy living – Physical exercises, daily rituals and routines can help your child ease her general anxiety by providing her with sense of security and stability.
These tips are not directed towards teaching your child how not to be scared; they infact help her deal with her own fears and insecurities. Children’s fear by age is a normal phenomenon and does not mean your child is weak in anyway.