Follow These Steps to Handle Your Child’s Fears

Parenting

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With Halloween right around the corner, it’s not uncommon for young children to become scared more often than normal. Dr. Dehra Harris, a Pediatric Psychiatrist with Washington University at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, gives advice on how to remove fear from your child’s mind.

If your child is afraid of loud noises or has a fear of monsters and ghosts, it’s especially important to recognize that the fear is a very real thing for young children. Adults often view these fears as irrational, and may quickly dismiss their child’s complaints or use the quick solution of saying, “There is nothing to be afraid of.” Sometimes as parents, we solve the problem too quickly for our children to understand. That’s why it’s important to have a conversation with your child during the day to effectively deal with their fears. Dr. Harris outlines a few steps in addressing your child’s fears:

#1. Listen to your child’s fears to understand what bothers them.
#2. Sit down and ask questions. If your child fears there’s a monster under the bed, ask questions like, “Where did you first hear about this?” and “What does the monster look like?” Try having your child describe their fear or identify when they first started feeling scared.
#3. Create a strategy together to address your child’s fears. It’s important that your questions spark a conversation that allows your child to be involved in creating the solution. For young children, it’s okay if you come up with an imaginary solution together. For older kids, simple changes in routine can help calm their fears. For example, if your child is afraid of the dark, try using a night light.

If the fear persists, seek expert help. There are some situations where the fears may be recurring or end up getting worse over a period of a few weeks. At this point, it may be time to seek advice from your child’s doctor or psychiatrist

It is completely normal for your child to develop fears, especially around this time of year. With this approach, you will be able to help your child deal with fears, so they can enjoy the fun aspects of Halloween.

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The St. Louis Children’s Hospital YouTube channel is intended as a reference and information source only. If you suspect you have a health problem, you should seek immediate care with the appropriate health care professionals. The information in this web site is not a substitute for professional care, and must not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. For help finding a doctor, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Answer Line may be of assistance at 314.454.KIDS (5437). The opinions expressed in these videos are those of the individual writers, not necessarily St. Louis Children’s Hospital or Washington University School of Medicine. BJC HealthCare and Washington University School of Medicine assume no liability for the information contained in this web site or for its use.

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