It’s no wonder our kids find some things scary. So much of it is new to them! Add to that a difficulty communicating or processing information information and children are bound to need a little extra help along the way.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we all have things that make us feel afraid. Thinking about our own fears helps us tune into how a child might be feeling in those tricky moments.
There’s lots of things we can do to help children understand and manage their fears. Here’s some practical ideas to get you started.
Acknowledge the feelings. It’s easy for us to dismiss childhood fears and simply say ‘It’s not scary’, but the reality is that our kids are experiencing genuine fear and worry in the moment. We can help children by commenting on what’s happening and naming how the child might be feeling.
Give some control over the situation. When something is scary it can be reassuring to be in control of the pace: approach and then retreat. It can also be reassuring to have some choice over what happens. So, look for opportunities to let your child manage the pace or make choices about some of the details.
Talk about what’s scary. Being able to talk through the details, find out more information, ask questions is all helpful in getting more comfortable with new things.
Look for things that provide extra support. What are the things that might help your child to feel more comfortable? A particular toy? Maybe an intro visit before the big event?
Celebrate the tiny attempts. Noticing the tiny steps of progress, reminding ourselves how far we’ve come already is essential when progress feels slow.
Find a way to feel okay. If your child is too afraid to do some of the things you had planned, that can be hard and you matter too! Consider what might still make the situation enjoyable for you.