The master monster under the bed, the scary old lady who resides in the closet, the abyss and the fear of falling into it when entering the bathroom, the darkness, the window that hits the tree branches on it, the ghosts and the bad guys, the dogs, the snakes and the spiders, the thunderstorm and other very long list of things that appear Fear in children is its direction.
Fears are an inevitable part of being a child! But to deal with these concerns, do you need to stay with your child? Do you leave the locker door open? Would you sell the bed and make him sleep on the floor so that there is no room for the monster? Or does it need a special way for your child to manage his fear?
Fear in children
The world of children is a world full of dangers, some of which are real and some of them are imaginary.
Not all worries are bad! On the contrary, there are fears that can be considered a protection card, such as fear of fire, the power socket, or leaving the house alone, and others …
But there are studies that show that some anxiety disorders may actually begin in childhood, so treating and dealing with fear in children is not only important for dealing with fear, but rather for preventing other psychological disorders and many complications.
How children’s brain deals with fear?
Scientists have been trying for decades to understand the fear in children and delve into it and what makes the child afraid of the dark, or of monsters or ghosts, etc.…. This opened the door to important ideas and answers about this fear.
Our brains operate along two paths: the first nerve pathway is the low path, meaning the immediate response “the escape or fight response,” and the second path is the highway “the normal response.”
When encountering a sudden thing such as a huge gray beast, the brain works according to the first path, i.e. escaping or fighting, and many symptoms such as muscle contraction – high blood pressure – the person becomes more sensitive to what is around him …
On the other hand, the natural response, that is, according to the fast track, gives logical reactions, for example, going to the computer and then the browser and asking Google a question, “Is this spider toxic?” And then understanding the answer and information …
Children’s brain develops with age
Young children are more prone to fear and panic. This is due to the fact that their “fight or flight” response is fully developed. On the other hand, their nerve pathways according to the highway path are still in the process of development, and this explains the way they respond to external stimuli.
For adults, when you hear the sound of a balloon pop directly, you will realize that it is just a balloon, but for children, their response lacks the ability to quickly understand the matter and know that it is just a balloon and it is over, in the sense that the thinking of children at a young age is primitive or very backward.
With age, the frontal cortex of the brain begins to develop (which is responsible for perception) and continues to grow until the neural pathways complete and it becomes possible and easily to overcome the fears that were present.
Then the child becomes able to realize that the master is a monster that is not real and does not sit under the bed, and the frightened lady is nothing but imagination and does not live in the closet, and that the branches are what knocks on the window and that that sound was nothing but the bang of a balloon.
Common concerns in children
Most children show fear of many things that can be distinguished between them according to their age, and in general children naturally and instinctively have fear of two things: the first is the high sound and the second is the fall or the cliff, and other than that, the fear is acquired from the surrounding environment:
Fear in children from the age of months to two years
At the age of months the child has already formed strong bonds with his parents or his caregiver, and thus moving away from these people (the people who are special to him) can lead to a lot of anxiety, fear and crying, in addition to developing fear towards strangers, and you can treat fear when Children in this case through:
- If your child becomes anxious when you leave room to room in the house, take him and talk to him.
- Allow your son to get to know and deal with new people under your supervision and in front of you, that is, make your child know that there are good people.
- Tell your child every time you leave the room or home and also when you come back so that he will trust you more.
- Reassure and calm your child, and let him know when you are going home.
- Don’t let your child scream and deal with his fear on his own, as this will only make it worse.
Fear in children from two years old through school age
At this age, the child has begun to learn how to deal with his strong feelings of anger or tension, but fear is still very common for him, especially when overwhelmed with strong feelings, and in general at this age children have a vague understanding about sizes and spaces and thus develop an idea. Fear of falling down the toilet or fear of falling into a hole:
- You should encourage the child to talk to you about his fear and its cause.
- You have to appreciate that the fear of falling to the ground is a real fear, as they do not yet fully understand the concepts of dimensions.
- Do not force your child to face his fear, as it may get worse. Instead, adopt a gradually getting used to it.
- You may have to help the child to avoid the thing that frightens him for a while.
Fear in children of primary school age
At school age, the child has learned more about the world and therefore the list of things that cause fear in children has become larger and more varied, and may include: fear of darkness – fear of theft – fear of war – fear of death – fear of divorce and separation of his parents – Fear of ghosts, monsters and others …
- Your child should know that you take his fear and the things he fears very seriously and don’t underestimate it.
- Give your child real and honest information about the things he fears such as war, death, etc., and you must be ready to answer many of the questions he has.
- Encourage your child to face some of his fears, such as dogs or cats, and others, so that this is done slowly and gradually, starting from seeing pictures and then reading stories and then videos until he faces his fear …
- Allow your child to be responsible for things that make him comfortable, for example if he is afraid of theft or intruders, then assign him the task of closing windows.
Children’s fear of the dark
Younger children tend to fear things that are unfamiliar to them and that they cannot control, such as darkness along with their vast imagination that may make them think that the master is a monster under the bed or the old lady in the closet is waiting to turn off the light until they go out.
On the other hand, the child’s fear may not be from the darkness itself, but rather from his fearful expectations and imaginations associated with it, for example when his father turns off the light and goes out of the room and becomes dark, so he may be afraid of the idea that his father may never return or he may die or may be harmed …
- Encourage your child to talk to you about his fear in detail and what exactly he is afraid of.
- Understand and understand his fears, and do not underestimate or mock them.
- Work to reassure him and explain to him that there are no creatures like Mr. Monster or the Old Lady of the Treasury …
- If he is afraid of the dark due to the possibility of a thief or an intruder, explain to him about safety levels in the home and self-defense techniques.
- Ask him to give you suggestions about the things that make him feel safe, such as sleeping next to his favorite toy or on a specific pillow, etc.
- If he is afraid of the dark because of his fear of losing you, you should reassure him regularly.
Causes of fear in children
It is natural for a child to be afraid, but there are a number of reasons that play a role in raising the level of this fear and may turn into an anxiety disorder, namely:
There are chemicals in the brain called “neurotransmitters” that send mental messages and control the way a person is excited and feels, and the most important of these are: serotonin and dopamine, which are two transporters that can cause a lot of anxiety and fear when they are not at a normal level.
Until now, the gene responsible for fear is still unknown, but fear is just like the color of eyes, length and nature of hair. The child can inherit it from his parents, in addition to being affected by their personality.
The child’s passing through a painful experience or a difficult matter or a lot of stressors such as: parental divorce – illness – death … It can be one of the main causes of fear in children
You might be interested: PTSD … when the traumatic experience has a big impact on you
Not getting enough sleep means that the neurotransmitters will not be at the normal level, in addition to fatigue, exhaustion, and a decrease in the level of awareness, all of this paves the way for feelings of tension, anxiety and fear.
It may interest you: night terrors in children
Screens (computer screen, TV, phone, etc.) all emit blue light that works to reduce the chemicals that allow sleep, in contrast, unhealthy habits such as staying up late and sleeping in the day and waking up at night are the cause of the development of anxiety.
Food plays an important role, especially with regard to the regulation of hormones and neurotransmitters, in addition to creating a state of tension or calm, and therefore the child should not eat healthy food such as vegetables and fruits and avoid sweets and fatty foods.
You might be interested: 20 tips for healthy eating for kids without turning the dining table into a battlefield
Treating fear in children
Children’s fear must be treated in ways that suit their fears and age, in addition to the importance of the following steps:
- Teach him that fear is not a bad thing and that it can be overcome by telling him and talking to him if you are afraid of something and you can ask for his help.
- When your child is in a state of fear, work to calm him down with his cuddle and by being next to him, but do not talk to him, explain and explain, as he is not able to comprehend you in these moments because the mechanism of his brain’s work is the “fight or flight” response.
- Have him talk to you about his fear, and don’t underestimate or mock it.
- Cuddle your baby and give him a warm touch.
- Be supportive, but don’t overdo it.
- Do not make sure that there is no monster under the bed, and do not open the closet door to show that the old lady is not there, because this could indicate to your child that these things really exist.
- Do not exaggerate in supporting and strongly embracing the child, etc. … this can teach him that fear is one of the techniques that attract your attention.
- In some cases where your child is very afraid and in a state of anxiety disorder, it is necessary to seek the help of a specialist or psychiatrist to treat and deal with fear in children.
You never have to make sure that there is nothing in the closet or under the bed, but you have to help your child to overcome these feelings of horror. You have to work on treating fear in children.
More on fear:
- What is feline phobia, its symptoms, causes, and how can it be treated and dealt with?
- All about entomophobia, fear of insects … (without pictures of insects)
- Fear of disease or Hypochondria … Do you think you have it?