Children's fears: how to help a child
Attempts to fight fear are useless, because this is a fight against the consequence, but you should not let it go either: fears inhibit the child's mental development. The cause of fear must be removed …
The children's psyche is not yet strong, vulnerable; the child's consciousness is just being formed, so it is often not at all clear what caused the fear.
A child may suddenly begin to be afraid of completely different things: darkness, to be left alone in a room, closed doors, insects, animals, germs, death, etc. The more impressionable and emotional the child is, the more varied, stronger and brighter the fears.
Children’s fears may seem to adults to be fake, made up, and attempts to deal with them lead to despair. Parents try to put fear in a bottle and throw it away, draw fears and then tear them up, put them in a cage, promise a reward if the child is not afraid, even take them to a psychologist - nothing helps. We try to explain, convince, persuade. It seems that we simply cannot find the right and necessary words.
Relatives and acquaintances who are convinced that the child is simply manipulating in order to achieve his own can add fuel to the fire. Some advise forcibly pushing a child to overcome fear by forcing him to do what he is afraid of. But the mother's heart always knows the truth, it feels that her child is really scared, but she does not know how to help him get rid of fears. What to do, what words to choose so that he understands? Show firmness or wait until it outgrows?
Attempts to fight fear are useless, because this is a fight against the consequence, but you should not let it go either: fears inhibit the child's mental development. The cause of the fear must be removed.
Explicit and implicit reasons
The most important thing for any child is a sense of security and safety, which he perceives as complete mental and spiritual comfort.
Fear arises when a child loses a sense of security and safety.
If a child is afraid of something, it means that at the sensory level he feels a threat to his life, does not feel safe. Why does a child lose a sense of security if there are no external real threats to his life?
Any child is a body and a psyche. We carefully guard his body: we feed him, dress him according to the weather, do not let him run out onto the road or stick his finger in an outlet. It is also necessary to preserve the psyche of the child.
Not shouting, not hitting, not humiliating, not intimidating - this is about preserving the psyche, but that's not all.
A child cannot yet save himself on his own, therefore, a mother for him is a guarantor of survival in this world, it is she who, with her love and care, gives him a feeling of security and safety. From the very birth, the child is connected with her on a sensual, unconscious level. Therefore, he automatically, as it were, "reads" her internal, mental state. And this is the first reason for the emergence of children's fears.
Fear out of nothing
The younger the child, the more acutely he feels his mother: up to 6-7 years of age this connection is absolute. If the mother has any internal problems, the child will certainly react. It can be:
- problems in personal life: lack of a life partner, quarrels, conflicts with her husband, divorce, etc.;
- problems in implementation: unloved work or lack of it, conflicts at work;
- anxiety states.
When a woman has problems in any of these areas and cannot deal with them, it robs her of peace of mind and causes stress. It is not always obvious, it can be hidden, unconscious. The more difficult the problem, the greater the stress. In other words, a woman herself loses a sense of security, confidence in the future.
In a child, such an internal state of the mother also causes stress, which can be expressed, among other things, by fears. The child's psyche simply does not know how to adapt the internal discomfort in another way.
When a mother loses a sense of security and safety, the child subconsciously feels this as a threat to his life. Against this background, unfounded, unreasonable children's fears arise, which often go hand in hand with tantrums and whims.
Read about how Ramila managed to cope with the training "System-Vector Psychology" in her review.
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Vanya is the only and late child who was born after a long treatment for infertility. Such a long-awaited child has become a cause for constant concern. The woman surrounded her son with excessive care, trying to protect him from any dangers - real or imaginary. The slightest malaise, bruise, scratch was a reason for panic. In addition, she constantly asked the child about his health. Naturally, the boy's fears of his mother were involuntarily transmitted to the boy and he began to be afraid of everything in the world. Dogs and cats - what if they bite or scratch, other children - what if they offend doctors - what if it hurts …
So the anxious state of the mother resulted in excessive care and became the cause of the child's fears.
What to do? Treat my mother's soul. Any of the above problems have deeply rooted causes. System psychologist Ekaterina Korotkikh tells how unconscious childhood psychological trauma affects our adult life:
Having cognized ourselves, our psyche, we begin to understand what to expect from tomorrow, we can confidently look into the future and give children the feeling of a serene childhood that they need so much.
In an attempt to cope with disobedience, parents or other relatives may say the following phrases to children:
- If you don't obey - I'll call a policeman.
“If you don’t eat the soup, I’ll call a doctor and give you an injection.”
Or they scare: a babayka, a barmale; they threaten to close him in a room, leave him alone, send him to an orphanage …
Of course, we say this without intent to harm the child - it's just a desperate attempt to somehow influence him. But these phrases are far from harmless, especially for children with a sensitive psyche - they don't even need to be intimidated constantly, one time may well be enough for the child to wake up crying at night or to be afraid of other people.
In an impressionable and emotional child, well-known fairy tales, such as "Kolobok", "The Wolf and the Seven Little Goats", "Little Red Riding Hood", "Little Boy", "Three Little Pigs", can become the cause of fear. And the Cockroach from the fairy tale of the same name by K.I. Chukovsky makes more than one generation of children freeze with fear. What do all these tales have in common? They either want to eat someone, or they eat it.
For a child, animals in fairy tales are not animals, but little boys and girls, he associates himself with them, and a violent fantasy draws terrible scenes of reprisals in the child's head - over him, of course. And if you consider that fairy tales are often read to children at night, then is it any wonder when the child suddenly begins to torment nightmares or is haunted by the fear of the dark.
Mom as a source of safety
If you do not help the child to get rid of fears, then soon their number will grow, or one fear will go away and another will come in its place. And then the quantity will turn into quality, that is, the fears will become stronger and turn into phobias or panic attacks.
There is only one way to get rid of any childhood fears - is to replace one feeling with another, the opposite. When a child is afraid, he is afraid for his life, that is, the whole focus of his attention is focused on himself. It is necessary to shift this focus to another, to the one who is feeling bad, to whom the child can sympathize, empathize.
Two opposite feelings cannot exist at the same time. Feelings of compassion are the exact opposite of fear. Either one or the other.
Reading books for empathy is real psychotherapy for little panties.
For example, "The Lion and the Dog" by L. Tolstoy or "Girl with Matches" by G. H. Andersen. To get the desired effect from reading, tune in to it and read so that your heart aches: heartfelt, intoning, with pauses. The child will feel it and respond emotionally. Baby tears will be a marker that you did everything right. You should not be afraid of these tears - these are not tears of pity, but of sincere empathy. They are the ones who heal a child's soul, tormented by fears.
Experiencing the strong positive emotions that come from reading good books together creates a deep emotional bond between mom and baby.
How our child will see the world around him - kind and safe or hostile and full of dangers - is completely up to us, parents.