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How to help a child overcome fears and phobias

How to help a child overcome fears and phobias
How to help a child overcome fears and phobias

Some children are extremely sensitive. They need time to get used to the new environment, people and situations. For example, if a child is going to school or a sports section for the first time, he or she will have to get used to the new environment and enjoy school or sports only after a certain period of time. child overcome fears and phobias.

From time to time every child feels fear. Young children, exploring the world around them, gain new experiences and face certain difficulties or unexpected circumstances that may frighten them. This is an integral part of maturation and development. However, sometimes the child feels an irrational fear of the most unexpected things. For example, he is afraid of the sound of the siren of a fire truck or ambulance, insects, etc.

Children’s fears are common

According to psychologists, 43% of children aged 6-12 are prone to fear. The most common at this age is the fear of the dark, especially when the child is left alone in a dark room. Also, children are often afraid of animals, such as large dogs, barking loudly. Some children are afraid of fire, heights or thunderstorms. Sometimes children are scared of robbers, kidnappings or war when they watch the news on TV or on the Internet. If a child has recently experienced the loss or serious illness of a relative, they may be overwhelmed by worries about the health of loved ones. These fears usually go away in adolescence. Most of these fears are not very strong and gradually subside.

What are phobias

Sometimes fears become so acute that they turn into phobias. These are strong and irrational fears that interfere with daily life. For example, a six-year-old’s fear of dogs can cause her to panic so much that she refuses to go outside at all. At the age of 10, a child may be so worried about the news of serial killings that he will insist on sleeping with his parents.

Some children at this age have a fear of communicating with the people they meet in everyday life. Such shyness can prevent a child from making friends at school or communicating with most adults. Especially strangers. Such children may deliberately avoid social situations (such as friends’ birthdays), and may find it difficult to communicate with anyone but their family members.

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Often children at this age have a fear of isolation. Sometimes this fear is exacerbated when the family moves to another city or the child moves to a new school. The child may be afraid to go to summer camp or even go to school. This phobia can also have physical symptoms, such as headaches or abdominal pain. All this leads to the fact that the child shuts himself in and becomes depressed

At the age of 6-7 years, a child usually learns about death for the first time, which can lead to a new fear. When she realizes that, eventually, all mortals – both her parents and herself – her anxiety may increase. In some cases, this preoccupation with death is very painful.

How to deal with fears and phobias

Fortunately, most phobias are treatable. Phobias are not usually a sign of serious mental illness that requires a long course of psychotherapy. But if the child’s anxiety does not go away for a long time and prevents him from enjoying everyday life, he should seek professional help from a psychologist or psychotherapist who specializes in the treatment of phobias.

During the treatment of phobias, many psychotherapists suggest that the child meet the source of their fears in safe doses. For example, if a child is afraid of dogs, the therapist can show them pictures of dogs or videos with them during the conversation, and then – Invite the child to watch the dogs from the window. Finally, a psychotherapist can play with a small puppy for a few minutes in the presence of adults. After that, the child will feel much better in the presence of dogs. This process is called desensitization: the child gradually becomes less sensitive to the source of his fear every time he encounters it. As a result, the child will stop avoiding the situations that caused her phobia. Although this process seems obvious from the side, it should be carried out only under the supervision of a professional.

Sometimes doctors recommend antidepressants as an adjunct, although they are never used as the only treatment. They help relieve anxiety and panic attacks associated with phobias.

How parents can help a child

Here are some ways parents can help their child deal with their fears and phobias:

  • Talk to your child about her worries and show compassion. Explain to her that many children have fears, but with your support she will definitely learn to give them advice;
  • Do not diminish your child’s fears and do not ridicule them, especially in the presence of her peers;
  • Do not force the child to show courage. She may need time to deal with her fears. In addition, you can unobtrusively encourage her to look into the eyes of fear and not avoid situations that frighten her. The main thing is not to insist on it.

Fears are a normal part of a child’s life, the reaction of his psyche to a real or imagined threat, the source of which is in the world around him. Therefore, parents should support the child in such situations. When talking to her about her fears, parents should acknowledge them, but not exacerbate or diminish them. Reassure your child and suggest ways to deal with their fears. Trusting and supporting is an effective way to deal with fears. If that doesn’t work, the fear can turn into a phobia, and then the best way to help is to get professionals.