Friday, February 22, 2008

Comforting Your Fearful Preschooler

Help your child overcome fears and anxiety
Have you ever woken from a dream that was so vivid you had to convince yourself it wasn't real? During those first unsure moments you are unable to separate dream from reality. Eventually, past experience allows you to ground yourself in the here and now. Unfortunately for preschool children, they lack this experience and often suffer at the hands of irrational fears and nightmares.

1. Monitor Your Child's ExposureOne way to handle fears is to head them off at the pass. When choosing a book, movie or television show for your child, preview it first. Look for fantastical images or ideas that may be frightful for a young child. Try to imagine how you would respond to the material if you could not distinguish fantasy from reality.
2. Adult Reasoning is not ComfortingPreschool children do not have the mental processes necessary to understand adult reasoning. Therefore, to tell them a movie is make believe, a book is just a story or a dream didn't really happen is not comforting. It is what you know to be true, but it is not your child's truth. Instead, concentrate on comforting your child with empathy. Tell them you understand that they are scared and that fear is an awful feeling. Let them know that you are there with them and will protect them for as long as it takes for the fear to subside.
3. Use Soothing Words and Comforting TouchWhen your child is afraid, use soothing words and comforting touch to calm them. If your child has a nightmare, sit with him and massage his temples or stomach until he is able to return to sleep. Use low, smooth tone of voice to tell him he is loved, and know that simply having a parent with him until the fear passes makes your child feel safe and cared for.
4. Be RespectfulWhile a child's fear may seem silly to you, it is very serious for them. Respect that and honor your child's fear. If you downplay it or tell the child they are being ridiculous, you are teaching them to not trust themselves. Fear is fear, no matter how irrational it may seem.

I hope this tips can help mothers out there who have preschoolers understand why their children are acting like that.

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