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Your fearful preschooler
It isn’t unusual during the early years of a child’s life for him to confuse what is real and what is fantasy. There are some ways to help your child handle fears.
Give him information about what scares him. Tell him there really aren’t monsters and witches except pretend monsters and witches in the movies or in stories. You certainly don’t want to take him to scary movies; it is well worth the time to read a review before you pick your next film. Even when you tell him that monsters don’t exist or that what he saw in the movies isn’t real, this will take some time for him to believe.
Don’t tease, punish or humiliate him for his anxiety. This just makes the fear even stronger.
Don’t force him to confront things that frighten him. Slowly, very slowly, try to get him to be less frightened. If he is frightened of dogs, read about dogs and get him a stuffed animal to play with. If he is afraid of spiders, let him see a spider up close.
Remind him that his fears are normal. Talk about things you were frightened of as a child and how you got over it. Read books about fears of other children. These let him talk about fears in a less painful way.
Fears go away over time. Help him but don’t push too hard.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and now director of Parenting Matters Foundation. The foundation publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers, and grandparents. Reach Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 681-2250.