There are so many incredible firsts that happen for children during the summertime.
For some, it may be when they first learn how to swim or dive into a pool. For others, it may the first time they go to camp or away from their parents for an extended period of time. Still for others, it may be riding a bike without training wheels.
While these things be exhilarating, their negative counterpart is that they can also launch or intensify fears. The article “Understanding Childhood Fears and Anxieties,” at the Healthychildren.org website discusses the commonality of childhood fears and anxieties, and what parent s can do to help. The article states that 43 percent of children between ages six and twelve have fears and concerns. Topping the list is one that ranks high in this house-fear of the dark and being left alone in the dark. Fear of animals, particularly large barking dogs, fires, thunderstorms, burglars, kidnappers, and nuclear war also make the list. I see some of my own childhood “favorites.” By middle childhood, these fears often lessen or perhaps briefly intensify, before they subside on their own. For some, these fears become more entrenched and turn into phobias. According to the article, this occurs when fears become so extreme, persistent, and focused, that they interfere with the child’s daily activities.
There are many things parents can do to help a child who is fearful or phobic. To mitigate fear in a child, it is important that a parents talks to their child about their fear and is sympathetic. Their fears are very real to them and are a normal part of life. Not being so can shame a child and make a fear worse! It is important to acknowledge the fear, but not increase or reinforce it. It helps to point out what is being done to protect the child. The article suggests getting your child on board to take additional steps to combat their fears. This is very empowering and can help resolve or make a child’s fears more manageable.
When such efforts are not enough to soothe and reduce the level of fear and anxiety in a child, it may be time to work with a licensed mental health professional. When entrenched fears turn into phobia s that get in the way of everyday life for your child, a licensed mental health professional can work with your child to desensitize your child to her fears; build coping skills; and help them return to more normal functioning.
I come back to the phrase I often hear growing up, “There’s nothing to fear, but fear itself.” By empathizing with your child; demonstrating what is being done to assuage the fear; and seeking their active involvement, many fears can be put to rest. —Putting them to rest, may just mean you can rest , a little better and a little more easily. If this is not possible, there are many licensed mental health professionals eager to help and fully equipped to do so…..