Be Brave: 7 Ways to Help a Child Overcome their Fears

Fear is a universal emotion. As an adult, you might have experienced fear of losing your job, a health scare, or even the panic of having to deal with a spider in the bathtub. But when your child is fearful of something that you don’t find threatening, it can be difficult to know how to help them.

Jan 11, 2022  -  Written By Hector


Children’s Fears

All children will experience fear at some point. Significant worries about learning to swim, getting lost in the supermarket, or the monster under their bed can have a negative impact on children’s mental health. Learning to overcome and manage anxiety is key to nurturing positivity, confidence, and resilience.

Reading supports a child’s ability to empathize with others, as well as strengthens connections within the brain for more sophisticated brain activity. In Be Brave, the friendly Dragon demonstrates bravery in many forms, helping children to understand that they are not alone in feeling fearful. Furthermore, children may realize that, just like the Dragon, they show bravery every day without realizing it.

There are several ways you can support your child to overcome their fears.

1. Take your Child Seriously

If your child has a fear of dogs, it can be hard to be sympathetic if you are a dog lover. The fear may also seem unwarranted if your child has never been threatened by a dog. Just as adults can have irrational fears of spiders or snakes, children can have fears that appear not to have any foundation.

Let your child know that you understand their fear, and don’t belittle their feelings.

2. Support your Child

Try not to avoid exposure to fears, as accommodating anxiety will not help them to overcome it. Instead, encourage your child to gradually confront their fear so that you can manage it together.

If your child is afraid to go swimming, start by talking about pools or the sea, then look at pictures of swimming pools online together. Later, you can visit your local leisure center to see the pool without going into it. In time, your child may feel able to sit on the edge of the pool if they know there is no pressure for them to get in. At every stage, tell them how well they are doing. This gradual introduction to a fear ensures your child knows that you understand how real their fear is, and alleviates any concern that you might suddenly break their trust.

3. Give your Child Control

If your child is afraid of the dark, involve them in choosing a night light for their bedroom. Putting the night light on at bedtime could become one of their responsibilities before bedtime, giving them control of their fear.

4. Talk it Out

Sometimes the origin of a child’s worry is hard to pinpoint. Children who are afraid of being dropped off at a party may be fearful of something terrible happening to them whilst they are gone.

Finding a quiet moment to talk to your child about their fears could help you to understand the root of the anxiety so that you can better support them.

5. Explore Feelings with Books

Developing the habit of regularly reading fiction in childhood leads to better test scores at school. Furthermore, reading with your child helps them to feel better, reduces stress, and calms both of you down.

Children’s wellbeing can be supported by reading personalized children’s books that explore issues that affect your child. In Be Brave, the story shows adults and children that there are many ways to face your fears and show bravery, even if it feels hard. The story lends itself to a discussion about having the strength to be brave, especially with the support of those around you.

6. Avoid Causing Anxiety

Sometimes as parents we can inadvertently cause anxiety in our children. Rather than saying, “You’ll have a busy day at school today”, rephrase it to say, “I wonder what fun activities you will do with your friends today?” With your words, lead your child to feel excited, rather than nervous.

7. Celebrate Positive Behaviour

If your child gets in the swimming pool, strokes a dog on a lead, or goes to sleep with their night-light on, celebrate the achievement. Positive reinforcement shows your child that they have done a very brave thing and that you are proud of them.

Some children may only need to hear and see how proud they are, whereas others may benefit from a sticker chart or reward system to understand the value of their achievement.

Final Thoughts

Fears that seem harmless to us can feel threatening to children. You can support your child to overcome their fears by taking their concerns seriously, gently introducing their fear, and talking openly about how they are feeling.

Jan 11, 2022  -  Written By Hector