Dr. Tamar Chansky - How can I help my child cope with fears?

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All children have fears and situations that they want to avoid. Usually children have an average of about three things that they are afraid of at any given time. Those might be swimming pools or bees or dogs or raising your hand in front of the class. What is common though across all of those different situations is that what kind of cooks up fear is not having enough information about the situation, or not having enough experience interacting in that situation to see that you could handle it confidently.

So, what's a parents job? It's really about tackling those two pieces. So, the first thing is to find out what your child is afraid of in that situations, with bees. They're afraid that they're going to sting them that one as soon as they go outside they're going to be attacked by bees, well, they need to get some new information about it.

What can be really helpful is helping your child to go from this very afraid state about the bees or whatever the target is to becoming an expert about it. So, do some research with your child, and then ask your child to teach somebody else what they've learned. When they're in that empowered sitiation of telling grandparents or a neighbor, what they've learned about dogs or bees, they shift into a much more powerful mode and that's going to be helpful for them for the next step which is actually having the experience of interacting in that situation.

Remember, it's not sink or swim, you never want to force your child to do more than what they feel ready to do. Progress is really made with slow and steady approach. So, your child can look at bees in a jar, out the window from a distance and little by little get closer, and maybe, change the feeling about them by giving them a name, talking to the bees, saying hi to them.

All those thing just help your child to relax and feel more comfortable on situation, and then they're going to not want to avoid that situation, they will know that they can handle it themselves.