We had a mini-crisis on our trip to the beach a couple of weeks ago. On the one rainy day during our trip, we decided to take the boys to see How to Train Your Dragon 2. We excitedly bought our tickets at the sidewalk ticket window but then, as we headed into the building, my 4-year-old grasped the door frame, steeled himself across the entrance and announced emphatically, “I don’t want to go in there!”
1. Remember that this fear will pass.
2. Honor their feelings.
3. Offer “reality checks.”
4. Find ways to help your child face her fear in small doses.
5. Help your child find ways to feel safe.
This can mean different things in different situations. It might mean being close by as a parent, offering some type of tool or comfort, or making the situation more predictable for your child by letting her know what to expect or giving her control over some aspect of things.For instance, when Zip was afraid of the water, I sat right next to the pool during his first swimming lessons. When Bee was frightened by a dark bedroom, we bought a GlowPet and let him leave the door cracked until Hubby and I went to bed later. When Bee approached the Easter Bunny for the first time, I covered his eyes and let him choose when he wanted to have a peek.
6. Be honest.
My husband disagrees with me on this one, but I am holding to it: Don’t lie. Don’t tell your child dogs never bite or there are no bad guys. Kids usually know better and lying will undermine their trust and perhaps reinforce their fear (“It must be bad if Mommy has to lie to me.”)
Instead, offer perspective. “Most dogs are really nice. Grandma’s dog loves to be petting and gives kisses. She is always really gentle with me. Why don’t we pet her together?” or “Some people make bad choices, but the police work hard to stop them and keep us safe.”
7. Model confidence.
overboard or the reassurance occurs in place of trying to listen and understand. I try to be calm and definitive, “I know you are scared, but this is a safe situation, when you are ready.” We can show them through our own behavior that they are safe.
Back to the movie….