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Understanding Childhood Fears and Phobias

Oftentimes, fears and phobias are more prevalent in children. Due to the lack of experience and inability to face more of the outer world, children go through phases of certain fears or phobias from time to time. As they grow up and come across new experiences, the fear of uncertainty and lack of experience often cloud them when facing new challenges. Truth be told, fears and phobias are an inevitable aspect of growth.

However, rest assured that under normal circumstances, there’s nothing to worry about if your child is experiencing any fear or phobia. At this age, such things are part and parcel. Relax and let your little one relax. Ultimately, it’s the ability to face such fears and learn through them that brings one closer to the important things in life.

Some commonly found fears and phobias in children at different ages are:

1.Fear of strangers

As the term suggests, fear of strangers is a fear of unfamiliar faces. Infants as young as 8-9 months are capable of recognising the faces of their parents and other people they see often. Thus, when they see an unfamiliar face, they may get scared and turn to their parents or known faces to feel a sense of safety and security.

2. Fear of separation

Children of the age group of 1-4 years are often fearful of separation from their parents or known faces. Staying alone and away from their parents when they are at play school or at some event or are at a relative’s house can scare them. In fact, even when the younger ones are left alone in the bedroom, they may cry and wail in an attempt to be near their parents or a face they can trust.

3. Fear of imaginary things

You must have gone through this phase at some point in your life, we all have been – the phobia of imaginary things like someone in the kitchen at night or something under the bed or sofa or simply the fear of darkness. Although this fear is most prominent in children from the age group of 2-6 years, even some adults might experience the fear of imaginary things.

4. Social fears

The fear of making new relationships or introducing oneself in a social setting is often found in older children in the age group of 7 to teenage and beyond. The consciousness of how to behave, what to eat, how to look and act like in a social setting is often scary and they are fearful of it. Such phobias resist them from making the most out of their early years in life. It is essential to help them understand the scenario and teach them to deal with the same.

Although children grow out of their early-stage fears and phobias with time, you can be supportive and help them through the process by following these simple tips.

1. Recognise their fears

The first step to helping them cope-up with their fears is to recognise what’s concerning them to an extent that they’re scared. A child’s experiences may not always be pleasant and thus it is obvious that they will be fearful of certain experiences and triggers associated. You might start to notice such fears in daily activities when they refuse to do something or actually confess their phobias.

2. Help them differentiate between reality and fantasy

Children are unaware or unsure of the difference between reality and fantasy. When they’re fearful of imaginary or pretended things, it is necessary that you help them understand what’s real and what’s just an illusion. Especially, when they consume too much cartoon, they start to believe that real life too has similar things in existence. Talk to them and help them understand the difference.

3. Identify the early warning signs

You know your child best. When you notice the early signs of him/ her catching fear of something, break down the reality to them then and there. The sooner their phobias are destroyed, the less they’re fearful of new experiences. Identify their discomfort in a new setting or a new experience. Comforting them before breaking down the reality is also essential as they might not be in an understanding state.

4. Relax and have more fun experiences

Children with a good sense of humour are often of a braver nature than those who are timid. It is all created by the experiences they have. The more fun and humorous experiences you model for your child the more will they embibe such qualities in them and the less will they be fearful of new experiences.

At MS Dhoni Global School, our teaching faculty tends to help students to build confidence and overcome fears that don’t serve a purpose. However, it’s the work of both the teacher at school and more importantly, the parents at home to help a child cope with their fears and phobias.