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Facing Fear – Parents can evolve with Children through all Fear

Written by: Malak Tariq

Fear is a response to physical and emotional danger that has been pivotal throughout human evolution, but especially in ancient times when humans regularly faced life or death situations. Fear comes in many forms: unease, worry, anxiety, nervousness, tension, dread, phobia and so on. This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now.

Fear seems to have many causes. Fear of loss, fear of failure, fear of being hurt, and so on, but ultimately all fear is the fear of death.

Personality Traits appear to increase one’s likelihood of developing a phobia, and a tendency towards frequent worries and negative thoughts may also increase the risk, of being raised by overprotective parents, losing a parent, or sexual and physical abuse.

How do children learn fear?

Research shows that babies do not appear to show signs of fear until around 8 to 12 months of age, usually in response to new people or events, but they are less likely to show fear of strangers when sitting on a parent’s lap. And while some fears might be innate in humans, many fears are learned, perhaps most commonly by seeing a parent react fearfully to an animal or situation, or to frequently warn a child about its dangers.

But parents can always evolve with their children when it comes to caregiving. Communication, Confidence building and Cognitive thinking can go a long way to build foundations for children where they understand their feeling of fear and work through them. Studies show that parenting can make a big difference in boosting a child’s confidence to thrive.

Here is how parents can help their children through the feeling of Fear:

  • Parents should encourage and praise their children.

  • Parents should make use of a positive approach while sharing verbal information.

  • Parents should promote “approach” behaviour in their children rather than “avoidance” behaviour. This will help children go towards fear stimuli in a rather curious way rather than making assumptions and avoiding facing the situations at hand.

  • Avoidance parenting is where communication is blocked and confrontation is dreaded. Children pick these traits. These effects are apparent regardless of parent and child anxiety level.

  • Start grabbing a piece of paper so you can brainstorm together with your child whenever they experience fear. Ask them questions like “if it all goes wrong, what is the worst thing that could happen?”

  • Help them focus on the solution of situations. Discuss consequences of action they took, what they learnt and how they can react differently whenever they are in the loop of fear.

  • Read books with your children that help in understanding how to deal with fear. Regulate what they watch on devices as they might come across something which can be a trigger or violent thing. Show them uplifting stories of helpers and people in the community who went through fears and found hope. Tell them stories and read to them.

A few books for kids to read include:

  • Give your children warm hugs when they feel worried and low.

  • Tap into your child’s imagination by helping them visualize a calm thing instead of a scary one. For example, if they are scared of monsters, help them visualize an angel or a knight who fights off the monster and wards off negative vibes.

  • Teach your kids 1:2 breathing:

Take a slow, deep breath [inhale] your tummy and slowly exhale twice as long as inhale helps you relax. Help children in identifying stress signs like a clenched fist, heavy breathing and flushed cheeks. Employ breathing techniques and pat your children on the back as they slowly share their feelings.

Parents are a source of encouragement and empathy for their children.

The truth is that our world is unpredictable. Parents cannot protect children from each and everything that happens to them – whether it is beautiful or terrifying; life offers it all. But parents can help their children in building a confident, empathetic, cognitive and regulated mindset to help them face their fears head-on.

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