000-017   000-080   000-089   000-104   000-105   000-106   070-461   100-101   100-105  , 100-105  , 101   101-400   102-400   1V0-601   1Y0-201   1Z0-051   1Z0-060   1Z0-061   1Z0-144   1z0-434   1Z0-803   1Z0-804   1z0-808   200-101   200-120   200-125  , 200-125  , 200-310   200-355   210-060   210-065   210-260   220-801   220-802   220-901   220-902   2V0-620   2V0-621   2V0-621D   300-070   300-075   300-101   300-115   300-135   3002   300-206   300-208   300-209   300-320   350-001   350-018   350-029   350-030   350-050   350-060   350-080   352-001   400-051   400-101   400-201   500-260   640-692   640-911   640-916   642-732   642-999   700-501   70-177   70-178   70-243   70-246   70-270   70-346   70-347   70-410   70-411   70-412   70-413   70-417   70-461   70-462   70-463   70-480   70-483   70-486   70-487   70-488   70-532   70-533   70-534   70-980   74-678   810-403   9A0-385   9L0-012   9L0-066   ADM-201   AWS-SYSOPS   C_TFIN52_66   c2010-652   c2010-657   CAP   CAS-002   CCA-500   CISM   CISSP   CRISC   EX200   EX300   HP0-S42   ICBB   ICGB   ITILFND   JK0-022   JN0-102   JN0-360   LX0-103   LX0-104   M70-101   MB2-704   MB2-707   MB5-705   MB6-703   N10-006   NS0-157   NSE4   OG0-091   OG0-093   PEGACPBA71V1   PMP   PR000041   SSCP   SY0-401   VCP550   000-080   1Z0-051   300-208   350-029   102-400   1z0-434   220-801   70-347   1Z0-804   210-260   640-911   300-135   NSE4   EX200   070-461   70-534   700-501   9L0-012   MB6-703   400-101   70-480   M70-101   SY0-401   PMP   1Z0-061   9A0-385   642-732   000-017   9L0-066   JN0-102   1Z0-061   70-411   1V0-601   300-206   400-051   MB2-707   640-692   101   70-346   CISSP   HP0-S42   PR000041   PMP   300-075   200-125  , 300-135   CCA-500   2V0-620   CISM   OG0-093  

Say Goodbye to Ghosts and Other Childhood Fears – Greater Pensacola Parents

Say Goodbye to Ghosts and Other Childhood Fears

In addition to being a short-order cook, housekeeper, and 24/7 chauffeur, I’m also my kids’ #1 fear-fighter. I check under their beds for bad guys and stick my arm in the toy bin to “make sure the crab isn’t real.” Almost every day my kids ask for help with scary situations.

My daughter believes zombies live in our attic and my son swears he’s seen a green ghost in my bedroom. I tell them, “Monsters are just pretend,” but neither child believes me. They’re convinced that danger lurks in the darkness.

Where Fears Come From…

Kids’ fears are as unique as their personalities. Many young kids are afraid of animals and insects (dogs, snakes, spiders), characters in costumes (beware Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny), and things that go bump in the night. Others fear loud noises or believe they’ll be sucked down the toilet when it flushes. Even kids who don’t believe in the boogeyman may fret about schoolyard bullies.

“Some kids are more fearful than others because they are born with a predisposition to worry,” says San Diego, Calif., clinical psychologist Joanne Wendt, PhD. Other fears grow in response to trauma. For example, a child may start to fear bees after being stung himself or seeing a classmate get stung on the playground. A little information can be dangerous: Kids who learn about killer bees may believe backyard bumblebees are mini-mercenaries.

Adult role models can also fuel kids’ fears. A mom who is deathly afraid of escalators may pass along her anxieties by telling kids moving stairs are slippery and insisting the whole family take the elevator. “Kids look to parents for cues about whether a situation is safe,” says Tamar Chansky, PhD, author of Freeing Your Child from Anxiety. “Parents need to be mindful of the signals they send so they don’t send fearful messages about objects or situations that are basically safe, or can be managed,” she says.

Fight Fears Together…

Dismissing kids’ concerns isn’t the answer. “Parents can unintentionally feed kids’ fears by reassuring them they have nothing to worry about,” Wendt warns. The best approach is problem-solving. Here are some ways to do it.

Identify the issue. When your child comes to you for help with a fear, engage in some critical thinking. Questions like “Why are you afraid of this spider?” and “Have you been hurt by a spider in the past?” encourage your child define her fear more clearly. Once she’s defined her fear, she can start to question its legitimacy.

Teach kids to think twice. First, ask your child what worry is telling him about the situation, using a funny voice or puppet to represent worry. “Then, using his ‘smarter mind,’ ask your child what he really thinks will happen,” Chansky says. A worry might be saying, “The 6th-grade bully will toss me in the trash can,” but your child’s smarter side knows, “The trash can has a locked cover.”

Fight scary with silly. Have your child draw a picture of the thing that scares her. Then, do a goofy makeover. The hairy monster in your daughter’s closet will look a lot less frightening wearing a ballet tutu and hair curlers. Coach your child to imagine the monster slipping on a banana peel or falling off a cliff. “This allows her to take charge of her fear and her imagination,” Chansky says.

Practice self-soothing. Kids can learn breathing and muscle relaxation techniques to calm themselves. The easiest strategy is to breathe in slowly while counting to four and breathe out while counting to seven. This focuses your child’s attention and puts him back in control. “Repeating a special word, phrase or affirmation, such as ‘I can handle this,’ also eases anxiety,” Wendt says. Practice these calming behaviors every day so they become automatic.

Step it up. Use a technique called systematic desensitization to approach the feared situation gradually. “Make a simple drawing of a stairway from the side view and put your child’s goal at the top,” Chansky says. Then start at the bottom and write in steps from the least to most threatening. For example, a child whose goal is to pet a dog might start by looking at pictures of dogs, visiting a pet store or animal shelter and letting a dog sniff her hand. Remind your child to take deep breaths as anxieties escalate.

Be patient. Forcing kids to confront their fears when they aren’t ready will only increase their anxiety. Talk about your own insecurities and model a courageous approach to the unknown. When your child feels overwhelmed, allow him to step back and observe the scary situation from a distance.  Before long, he’ll probably be ready to reengage.

If Ghosts Won’t Go…

All kids have occasional worries, but some suffer from intense and persistent fears. “Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric disorders, affecting between 10 and 17 percent of children and teens,” Chansky says. “They are also the most treatable.” Using cognitive-behavioral therapy, kids can learn to turn down their over-reactive emotion systems and teach their brains new tricks.

If your child’s fears keep her from enjoying everyday activities at home and at school, reach out to your pediatrician or school psychologist. A professional fear-buster can help your child say “Boo!” to ghosts and other childhood anxieties.

Heidi Smith Luedtke is a personality psychologist and mom. She is the author of Detachment Parenting: 33 Ways to Keep Your Cool When Kids Melt Down.