I feel like our lives right now are largely in a holding pattern – giving us time to rest, grow in a relationship with God, and prepare for the future. Part of my preparation, is preparation for instructing and teaching my children. They are getting older, and I would expect we are going to need to start dealing with childhood fears fairly soon. Petra is already naming off things she is scared of. She hasn’t started naming off possible monsters that might be lurking in her room, under her bed, or somewhere else.
With this in mind, last week I posed the following question: How do you deal with your child’s fears, or how do you teach your child to deal with fear? This could be an imaginative fear (aka the monsters under the bed), a real fear as a result of something that has happened to the child, or maybe an innate fear.
I haven’t any experience with this. So maybe some of you veteran moms will have some helpful tools or ideas.
As I mentioned last week, Petra is scared of dogs. We have no idea why. We have two dogs. Nothing has ever happened to her to cause her to be afraid of dogs. But she is still scared of dogs, and she will tell you so quite frankly. Since she was about 5 months old she would start screaming when she saw strange dogs.
One of the things I’m learning to do is to recognize my child’s fears and not dismiss it. So often I want to dismiss her fear of dogs, but I’m also learning its important that we understand and recognize her feelings. I never like it when someone dismisses my fears or refuses to consider how something makes me feel…especially if I’m upset. And I’m sure for a young child that is vulnerable and upset, it makes them feel even worse to be ignored or made to feel like their issues are unimportant. And I’m reminding myself daily that while I may think my child’s problems are minor, they are big problems to my child.
After some quick research, I found this online article by Focus on the Family that I thought was very helpful. Here is a quick outline of what I pulled from it that I thought was useful.
Recognize the fear – let the child know you understand their feelings
Reassure the child – explain the situation and why the child does not need to be afraid
Provide scripture – help the child learn a memory verse that relates to the problem
Pray – teach your child to learn to pray for comfort and help
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