Knowing and Dealing with Children’s Fear and Anxiety
Oleh: Morinaga Platinum
Everyone, including children and adults, has some episodes of fear and anxiety in their lifetime. Anxiety over a situation is an unpleasant feeling. Nevertheless, among children, anxiety can be a normal finding. Anxiety is needed in the learning process. Fear and anxiety are natural feeling occur as a self-defense. However, some children can cope with this feeling, while others can’t.
Anxiety is often called as “the fear without any clear cause”. That feeling often comes when there is no apparent threatening condition towards oneself. Anxiety usually urge someone to run away from the situation he face. The heart beats strongly, cold sweat appears and nausea appears. But, not all anxiety results in detrimental effect to human health. The benefit of anxiety is to make human stay focus and being cautious. Fear or anxiety towards one thing help children to stay on track, for example fear of fire will make children afraid to play with matches.
According to the site childanxiety.net, 90% of children aged 2 to 14 years old has at least one type of fear towards certain things. Baby up to two years old usually fear of loud voices, strangers and being separated from the parents. Pre-school children age 3 to 6 years old usually fear of monster, ghost, darkness and lighting. School age children (7 to 16 years old) fear of more realistic thing, like accident, disease, school performance, death and disaster.
Fear can be caused by many things, even trivial matters. Some events that can trigger fear among children are traumatic events like being chased by a dog or drowning in the swimming pool.
Some children become afraid of something even by looking at other’s expression. Children’s imagination can be so wild and contribute to this fear. Nevertheless, there are some type of fear without any obvious cause.
Children’s fear might fade away at certain age. If that fear stays, and disturbing daily activity including sleep, then it can be called phobia.
Phobia is excessive fear towards object or certain situation caused by trauma or any event that affect the children deeply. Excessive fear often cause depression, anxiety and severe panic. Phobia occurs due to unfamiliarity to certain things and wild imagination, absorbing too much information that can’t be well processed, or witnessing somebody’s reaction towards certain things.
Based on the type of fear, phobia is categorized into three types:
- Specific phobia, excessive fear towards certain objects, like animal, closed space, heights etc.
- Social phobia usually occurs in the crowd or fear to be on the spotlight.
- Complex phobia, the combination of specific phobia and social phobia.
Phobia that is left untreated, will pose the children with the risk of suffering from mental development disorder, therefor phobia need to be addressed immediately. Parents can bring your children to a psychologist or pediatric psychiatrist to get further treatment.
Parents can help their children in dealing with their fear so that their fear does not evolve and become phobia. Do the following tips:
Expose your children to their fear
Afraid usually occur because they are not accustomed to the triggering object. Therefore, you need to introduce your children to the things that they afraid of. If they afraid of cat, give a complete and interesting information about animal, funny animal pictures from television or storybook.
Expose your children to their fear
Your little one can not conquer their fear if he does not try to face it in the first place. Make sure that your children do not avoid the traumatic source. For example, being on the spotlight. As parents, you can encourage your children to socialize more (by putting your children into certain course and join a playdate). Avoiding the source of fear can only be a temporary solution, but do not help them with conquering their fear effectively.
Traumatic event is not a laughing matter
Source of fear can be different from one person to the other. You can consider the source of fear as a laughing matter. But, this fear is a serious problem for your children. Show them that you have sympathy and ready to help. Your children need to know that you are on their side to conquer their fear.
The key to conquering fear and anxiety is by facing it, not avoiding it. Make sure to inform your children that there is nothing to be afraid of, they are safe and everything is fine. The state of comfort can increase mental defense and they can finally conquer their fear.