Helping Children to cope with fears
Children need adult support in order to learn to cope with fears. They need reassurance to reduce their anxious feelings, and skills for coping so that they can gradually learn to manage fears themselves.
How parents and carers can help
• Acknowledge how your child is feeling. Naming it, (e.g.‘feeling scared’), helps the child begin to see fear as a normal emotion that can be overcome.
• Stay cool yourself so you can model positive coping.
• Tell them how you learned to get over fears when you were their age.
• Positive self-talk can help children put fears into perspective. For example, “The storms on TV are far away from here. My house will be O.K.”
• Asking what a favourite hero might do in this situation can sometimes be helpful for encouraging children to be brave.
• Learning relaxation skills is often very helpful for dealing with fears.
• Help the child put realistic limits around the scary situation. For example, Jessica’s parents could explain that the TV pictures she saw were about something that happens rarely and only when the weather is extreme.
• Since television is a frequent trigger for children’s fears it is important to monitor television viewing to minimise exposure to things that may be frightening. It can also help to discuss scary things at the time they are seen on TV.