From infancy to adolescence, learn how to overcome the fears that afflict children. Fears for all ages of your child...
by Ana Carolina Addario,
Fear of strange people and places
Most common phase: 0 to 12 months
Beginning to make contact with the world can be an adventure rather than something frightening for a baby. Aidyl de Queiroz Perez Ramos, member of the board of child psychology, UNESP, says that from the beginning of life, a baby should be taught about the world. That means making him or her feel secure in relation to home and family, while presenting what life has to offer. Extreme and exaggerated care produces insecurity. So, take good care of your baby, but insure that the child does not become accustomed to feel safe only when they are close to you.
Fear of being forgotten at school (abandoned)
Most common phase: 2 to 3 years
What if my parents forget me here? This is a common doubt for children who begin to relate with the outside world and still see parents as the sole and exclusive security point of their lives. Crying on the first day of school for your child only makes them feel even more insecure. The anxiety of the child's reunion with the family causes this fear. According to Maria Regina, the best attitude to take in these cases is to establish good routines in relation to the internal and external world of the child, so that they feel more safe and secure about the family.
Fear of being replaced
Phase more common: no age
To no longer be the only baby in the house can be extremely threatening to a young child, especially when the child witnesses the changes that pregnancy causes for the whole family. This situation can turn out to be a good time for the children. Aidyl recommends strengthening the links between the eldest and the youngest, showing your child that the baby will be part of the team, the home for all of the children.
Fear of the dark and noises
Most common phase: 2 to 4 years
According to the author, Molly Wigand, the ideal in these cases is to show that the reason for all this fear and insecurity is only the imagination of your child. If you need to, embark on the trip: inspect with the child the space under the bed and cupboards and show that there is nothing in the room that will chase or "get" the child.
Afraid to sleep alone
Most common phase: 2 to 4 years
Sleeping alone is a very important step for the development of the child, but often it can cause them to feel more insecure about the "absence" of their parents than happy with the new space gained. To demonstrate suffering or insecurity in leaving children in their room only worsens the situation. Rather than weaken the relationship of the child with their new space, highlight the importance of their achievement.
Fear of the supernatural (monsters, spirits, vampires, witches)
Most common stage: 4 to 6 years
Contact with this type of fiction usually occurs exactly when the child's imagination is in full swing. If your child is still new to it, choose better genres of literature, television shows and movies that the child watches, so as not to suffer the impact of early imagination stimulated by the supernatural. For the psychologist, Maria Regina, it is very easy for a child to confuse the real with the fictional. Thus, normal noises coming from the street can turn into bloodsucking vampires or terrible monsters.
The solution in this case, is to best work the border between reality and fiction. If your child has a very fertile imagination, and so ends up frightened even more with the supernatural, have the child speak about it. Write stories about this world with them, draw, interpret. The child aquires more confidence by realizing that they have power over this imaginary world.
Fear of the world
Most common phase: 5 to 8 years
After initial contact with the playful and the fictional, children begin to pay attention to the dangers of reality. At this stage, while keeping company with the parents at newspaper time, they pay more attention to the conversations of the adults and begin to become aware of what happens around the world. If accidents, assaults and tragedies are scary even for adults, imagine how it is for children. "Orient your child to not turn these fears into phobias or clinical pictures such as panic attack syndrome," advises Aidyl. The is the key to help teach your child to exercise caution. How to deal with strangers on the street, be careful about the places they go, obey traffic rules to cross the street ... Teaching straight about law and common sense, and without reinforcing insecurity, the child enters adolescence more prepared to face new impasses.
Fear of death
Most common phase: 8 to 11 years
The fear of death is the most present thing for children in this period, who have already established the security of being with their family. They will now begin to fear the possibility of losing it. According to Maria Regina, when the child perceives the finitude of existence, they can start to take excessive care with their life. Aspects of hypochondriac traits or obsessive behavior might appear and in these cases, you must seek medical help.
Fear of not being accepted
Phase more common: 12 to 18 years
The most common fear at this stage is to not be accepted or not belonging to the group. If your child is afraid of not being accepted by the group for not playing football, for instance, show that they have dozens of other attributes that make them interesting. This will encourage them to show it. Never deal with this type of problem by focusing on what your child cannot do like if they do not play football. Start talking about how good they are with something else, such as musical instruments. In this way, they lose focus on what is weak in themselves to pay attention to what they can do best.
Translated from the Portuguese version by: