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In the serene tranquility of children finally surrendering to sleep, just as you start to breathe a sigh of relief, a small voice breaks the silence, chirping, “Mom! Dad! I’m scared!”
This scenario is all too familiar. Throughout the years, you have diligently inspected for monsters lurking beneath the bed, velociraptors secretly residing in the closet, aliens peering through the window, and the looming presence of a gigantic, eerie clown that supposedly visits your child’s room at night.
Yet, your investigative prowess has only ever uncovered a couple of dust bunnies and a mysteriously vanished sock. Nonetheless, your little one remains skeptical.
Why? Because, deep down, they wonder…what if?
Childhood fears are not confined to the darkness alone. Many children harbor apprehensions about various things, ranging from swimming pools (what if a shark is lurking in the depths?!?) to thunderstorms (what if the lightning strikes me?!?) to spiders (can you blame them?).
While some fears may be more rational than others, all hold undeniable significance in the world of your child, regardless of their tender age.
If your household is plagued by the presence of a formidable imaginary adversary, fret not. Your children need not grow up burdened by irrational fears of the unknown or anything else!
Below, you will discover strategies to empower your child with the confidence and fortitude to confront the menacing specters of their imagination, as well as the weighty, tangible fears that life may present.
Feelings of Your Child Should Be Validated, Not Ignored
Perhaps you find yourself caught up in the whirlwind of busyness, frustration, or exhaustion, making the mere thought of discussing zombies, vampires, or any other creatures from the realms of macabre fiction seem utterly tiresome. (“They’re just imaginary, my dear!”)
However, for younger children, the task of deciphering reality from fantasy is still a work in progress. Naturally, this distinction can be rather hazy for them.
It falls upon us to reassure our little ones that certain threats are highly improbable, if not downright impossible. Yet, we can approach this reassurance with a touch of empathy as well. After all, it’s not easy to be young and inundated with countless images and verbal warnings of potential dangers each day.
Children aren’t foolish for resorting to fight-or-flight instincts as they process everything, prioritizing fear over deep reasoning. (Even though you know your child won’t suffer food poisoning from a bite of broccoli, they aren’t so convinced…)
Of course, fear does serve a purpose. Its role in survival is crystal clear. Instead of brushing off our children’s anxieties, it’s beneficial to respond with empathy and encouragement.
Adopting a sympathetic tone doesn’t mean fueling their anxiety or fear. Rather, it means letting our kids know that we comprehend the feeling of being scared—and there’s no shame in it.
Realize When Fears Are Exaggerated And When They Are Real
At times, children tend to exaggerate their fears as a way to capture our attention. Bedtime tactics like requesting us to check their closet for monsters once again or pleading to sleep beside us for a night might serve as classic examples.
This behavior is particularly common when kids feel unnoticed or when they haven’t had their regular dose of mind, body, time, and soul bonding.
As a parent, you know your child better than anyone else. You can usually discern whether their fear is fabricated or genuine. However, if you’re uncertain, there are certain signs you can watch out for.
If your family has lately undergone a traumatic affair, or if your kids invariably picture overwhelming emotions of sadness, anxiety, or dread that they cannot regulate, it may be intelligent to seek help. The fear they express could be situation-specific and always need attention, or it could be indicative of an underlying anxiety disorder or phobia.
Fortunately, there are lots of consultants and psychologists who specialize in treating fear in kids. So, if you have any suspicions, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance.
Ensure Your Children Are Confident in Solving Problems
Once we have shown empathy, it is crucial to convey our unwavering belief in our children’s ability to conquer their fears.
Neuroscientists and psychologists concur that while some fears are innate, a significant portion of them is learned. This fantastic revelation empowers us with greater control over our fears. And it’s universally acknowledged that having more control is a highly advantageous position to be in.
When children are granted a bit more autonomy in their lives, such as making age-appropriate decisions or having the opportunity to express their opinions, they experience heightened levels of belonging and significance. This, in turn, naturally amplifies their sense of validation and self-assurance.
Increase Quality-Time Comforts
Children who feel safe and secure, both physically and mentally, are more likely to confront their fears with greater ease.
When kids harbor bedtime anxieties and become preoccupied with their fears during the night, incorporating Evening MBST (MIND, BODY, AND SOUL TIME®) can imbue them with a sense of being lovingly “armed” with protection. This can lead to a smoother transition into sleep and a more peaceful slumber.
Whether their bedtime apprehension stems from separation anxiety, night terrors, or the common fear of the dark, incorporating MBST into their bedtime routine serves as a distraction from worrisome “what if” thoughts. Not only does it offer immense comfort, but it also enhances overall well-being and instills a sense of confidence.
To have a fulfilling MBST (MIND, BODY, AND SOUL TIME®) session, all it takes is a dedicated 10-15 minutes of your undivided attention. During this time, allow your child to select the activity of their choice, and then simply give it a name—both before and after the session.
While fear is a natural part of life, it should never immobilize our children daily. Fortunately, there are strategies you can employ to assist your kids in conquering their deepest worries and building unwavering confidence in their own inner strength.
From the youngest toddlers to the resilient teenagers, our children possess the spirit of warriors. Let’s guide them toward recognizing and embracing that inherent courage within themselves.