When your normally courageous child suddenly starts crying when you turn out the lights, it can be concerning. However, the preschool years are a common time for fears to arise seemingly out of nowhere. Typically, these fears simply represent your child's growing awareness of their independence, and you can help them overcome them with a little encouragement. Whether your child is suddenly terrified of loud trucks or spiders, you can use these tips to turn their fears into an opportunity to develop their courage.
Respect Their Fear
Although you may know that your child has nothing to fear from a butterfly or a fictional monster, it is important to realize that the feelings your child experiences are very real to them. Avoid simply telling your child that they have nothing to fear, and never force them to do something that they are deeply afraid to do. Until your child conquers their anxieties, it is also helpful to let the staff at your child's daycare services know about what makes them scared. This way, they can plan activities around your child's fear and do not accidentally cause them alarm by doing something such as showing a snake picture during circle time.
Present Your Child With Small Challenges
Most fears can be conquered with small increments of exposure. For example, you could read a book about preschool to a child who is nervous about being left alone at their child care services. As they begin to show interest, you can then allow them to play in their classroom while you are nearby but down the hall. Eventually, your child will realize that preschool is fun, and they will no longer exhibit fear at your leaving. This same type of method works for other fears such as being left alone at night in the dark. Experiment with different minor challenges to see which ones work with your child the best.
Celebrate Your Child's Successes
As your child conquers each new challenge, be sure to provide reinforcement for their efforts. For instance, you could get them a new nightlight when they no longer cry at bedtime, or you can give them a special backpack to carry to school. Letting your child know that you recognize their progress encourages them to continue being courageous when they face new situations.
Preschool fears are very real and can feel intense to young children. As a parent, it is hard to watch your child struggle with a fear that may seem silly or even completely innocent. However, acknowledging that your child's apprehension is real to them allows you to help them gradually adjust to the changing world around them while feeling safe and secure at home and at daycare.Share