Are children fearful and skittish from birth? Or are there fears that are learned? A cautious child, who pays attention and care in what he does, is not the same as a fearful or scary child.
That children are afraid of the dark, of monsters, of being alone, of strangers ... is normal at certain ages and each evolutionary stage also has different associated fears. Fear is a primary emotion, it is evolutionary and it helps us protect ourselves from dangers. But, What happens to those fears that parents pass on to children?
We must be careful in how we handle children's fears, since we can reinforce them without realizing it and make that fear go further and become generalized, which will lead to more complex situations of anxiety.
There are times when children are too fearful or skittish. Fear of going to the bathroom alone, fear of playing with other children, fear of swings, etc ... And these fears may be infected or learned. These learned fears also affect their self-esteem. But, What do we mean by learned fears?
An example. Our son is in the park, he is small, and we watch him from the bench. Suddenly the boy gets up and goes to the slide that is next to him, and gets on. We get scared and running we go for him, with a panic face, we grab him and say, Honey, be careful, it's dangerous! And at that moment ... the child has just learned two things:
- The slide is dangerous, she doesn't really know why, but if her mother thinks so, it could be that it could hurt her.
- It is dangerous and I cannot face it, (because I am not capable, Mom has come to save me so it will be that I cannot face that problem).
The fearful child is an insecure child, so by teaching him fear of something, I also convey that I do not trust him to face that obstacle. It affects your self-esteem.
It is normal and natural that I want to protect my son from the dangers around him, but I cannot always protect him, and it is also not good. The child has to explore, he has to stumble and he has to fall, he has to hurt himself and he has to cry, but most importantly, he has to learn to get up. If he transmits the sensation that the world is dangerous, hostile, full of bad people who can harm me, and that furthermore, he alone cannot face the dangers, and that he needs us continuously, it is very likely that you do not dare to do many things, (go down for bread, buy some sweets, order a soft drink in a cafeteria ...). That is, it limits you.
Not only do we transmit that insecurity and fear to him with what we say to him, non-verbal communication is also important. If the child feels that I am nervous, if he notices my fear ... he will also have it, even if I do not say anything.
Children also learn fear by observation. On other occasions we transmit our own fears to them, (of dogs, of heights, the dentist, needles, going somewhere alone ...) and there we will have to do the double effort, control my fear and try to not pass it on to my son.
That is why it is important that parents control the fear that our little ones may hurt themselves, that something happens to them, while still showing them that we care about them and teaching them to be cautious and careful. Even if I am afraid that he will climb the highest slide, even if I am afraid that he will fall, What I have to convey to him is that I trust him, and that if he falls, I will be there, but without fear, to help and support you.
Therefore some questions or advice:
- Although fear protects us, widespread fear does not mean being more cautious.
- If your son is very fearful, stop and think, how am I acting?
- If I am afraid of something surely my son will also be.
- Show your child that you trust him, that he can do things by himself, that he is brave and capable. Tell him: Honey, I'm with you, I'm looking at you, don't worry I'm here, and avoid: Be careful, you're going to fall and you're going to hurt yourself, it's dangerous.
- Faced with a complicated situation, (a fall or a scare on the street), try to stay calm and don't lose your temper, since if the child has not noticed the situation or has not been hurt, before your reaction he will be scared and what was not important now is and is also scary.
- Teach him to be prudent. Tell him: do not talk to strangers, if someone approaches you, ignore him or tell someone else, and avoid phrases such as: If someone approaches you, run, there are many bad people.
- Try to don't reinforce your fears making them avoid those situations that scare them, but do not minimize its importance either. If your child is afraid of the dark, do not let him sleep with everything on, but leave him a little light, for example.
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