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Never ignore your child's fears!


Never Ignore your Child’s fears

Which one of us hasn’t woken up in the middle of the night in his/her room all scared and completely covered up with the hopes of morning to come?
Do you remember it? The fear, your fast heart beat & imagination going completely bonkers on you? What was the ONLY thought you had then? “I want my mom and dad” Right?
How did it feel once you were allowed to jump into your parents’ bed and fall asleep safe and sound? Amazing  I remember the hugs and kisses once I told them I am scared from monsters and would like to sleep next to them.
What causes children to have these “Sleep problems”?
Nighttime fears & nightmares are extremely common in children, especially between the ages of 2 and 7 years old, but they can also occur in older children and teenagers as well. They are part of normal development, as a child’s imagination develops & children begin to comprehend the fact that there are things that exist out there that can hurt them. Many times those fears and nightmares are the result of a frightening experience, (ex: being scared by a large dog to being in a car accident to watching the news, Horror movie), but other times they seem to come out of the blue. Family problems & parental anxiety can also play a role. Anything that makes a child more emotionally imbalanced is going to make his fears worse and make him feel more anxious. Children also typically have different fears at different developmental stages. Young children are often afraid of monsters and other imaginary creatures, whereas older children are more likely to fear being hurt by more realistic dangers, such as burglars, losing a parent or a natural disaster hitting.

 

What you should do as a parent:

  1. NEVER take your Child’s fear lightly or make fun of him!
  2. Listen to your Child’s words and find out the why’s and who’s
  3. ALWAYS give your child reassurance. Let them know that it was only a dream and what the difference is between reality and imagination/dreams
  4. Teach him/her basic coping skills. Discuss alternative ways to respond, such as "being brave" and thinking positive thoughts; you can also talk about how you deal with something that you are afraid of. Also, provide examples of coping role models by reading stories about children who are afraid and conquer their fears.
  5. Darkness is good. Make being in the dark fun. Play flashlight tag, Shadow figures or buy Glow in the dark stars and stick them together so that you can watch the stars in the dark at night.
  6. Buy a “Monster Spray” (create one) for your child and tell them it will keep all monsters gone.
  7. Nightlight. Take your child & let him/her choose a nightlight for his her room and if he/she co-sleeps with you then one for your bedroom.
  8. Avoid scary television shows. Keep your child away from scary TV shows, videos or stories that may add to his/her fears.
  9. Let them keep their favorite stuffed animal or blanket with them for security.
  10. Don’t OBLIGE them to remain alone in their room because this will only add more problems to the situation.

So what if your child wants to come and sleep next to you every now and then because they are scared to be left alone in their room?!
It’s okay, a child doesn’t need training everyone! What they need is comfort and security & the only way to get it is not by tucking them back in their beds and leaving them alone in the “horror” room. It’s by hugging them, kissing them and reassuring them that mommy/daddy are here and that they are safe. That’s what parenting is all about in the end! No need to train your child in doing anything, your attention, love & care will make him/her stronger and more confident with time.
As a mother of two young Children, the most important thing is to let them know that it’s okay to be afraid and that they don’t need to hide it from my husband and I. We are always there for them and make sure their happiness/safety comes first. Even if they have to sleep next to us every night until they overcome their fear of being alone.
Keep their memories positively alive when they are all grown-up by training less & loving more!
                                                                 

    © Laurence der Hovsepian

References: 
www.babycenter.com
www.parents.berkley.edu
www.askdrsears.com