Helping Kids With Their Fears
(Connection rather than Correction)
I was in the doctor’s office today waiting for an appointment
and the office was full of many people waiting their turn.
There was one little girl of about 3 years old with her dad
sitting on bench on the other side of the waiting room.
He was reading a book to her and the two of them were laughing together.
It looked like they got along quite well and she seemed very happy.
When it was her turn to go into the office everything changed.
The Terror Strikes
She started to scream and yell and cry.
She was waving her hands back and forth and pleading
NO NO NO NO NO!!
Clearly this little one had a
significant fear of going to the doctor.
They Did Their Best To Comfort Her
The father was very gentle with her
and did not push her too hard
which I appreciated.
The doctor actually came out into the waiting room to see her
and together they coaxed her into the room.
She never really stopped crying and they did
the check up as best as they could under the circumstances.
A Moment Of Connection With The Child
When they were done I was still waiting my turn,
you know how it is in doctors’ offices,
and I smiled at the girl giving her the
“You were very brave and everything is going to be OK”
In that moment she could feel my
acceptance and understanding of what
she was going through.
I could see her relax a little.
A Moment of Connection With the Dad
Her father looked at me almost apologetically and said
“She’s really afraid of doctors.”
I said fears like that are natural.
It’s a scary place and seeing the doctor is a scary thing.
He said: “Yeah, but she is 3 years old,
she should be over that by now.”
I looked into his eyes and I could see that
he might be open to an alternative idea,
so I said to him:
Accept and Connect With Your Kid
“One thing that can help a kid get over their fears
or at least deal with them better
is if they feel we accept them.
If we can say to them that we understand how they feel
and that their fears are reasonable
then it is more likely they will be able to
feel comfortable facing their fears
because they know they’re not alone in it.”
This seemed to make sense to him
so I ventured a little further.
We All Have Fears – I Can Relate To Your Experience
I said to the dad:
“We all have fears and some of them last a whole life time.
It is not unreasonable for her to be
afraid of doctors at only 3 years old.
If you can try relating with her and saying something like:
‘It is totally reasonable for you to be afraid of the doctor
sometimes I am too. Perhaps we can deal with this together.’
Connecting with her like that
can make her feel so deeply understood.”
The Moment Affected Them Both
The father nodded his head in understanding.
The little girl stopped crying and kind of looked at me funny.
At that moment I was called in for my
appointment and the interaction with over.
I hope he can take the message and run with it.
Fears Are Deep and Require Due Respect
It is so easy for us to tell kids that
their fears are groundless.
Just because we do not have that fear
we think there’s no basis for it.
Think of how many of your own fears would disappear
simply by thinking differently about them.
It just doesn’t work that way.
Fears Are Not Born In Logic Therefore
They Cannot Be Defeated With Logic
They are emotional and psychological.
Therefore an emotional and psychological solution is necessary.
They require love, understanding, compassion and healing.
Be Patient, Keep the Goal in Mind
Helping a child with a fear can be a long-term process.
Sometimes it can take weeks, months or even years.
There are times also when helping a kid with a fear
means helping them learn to live with or deal with it
rather than trying to get them over it.
We have to be open to all different possibilities.
Simply put – invalidating our children’s fear
does not help them to deal with it
It is much better to connect with them
and help them to feel that they are
understood and accepted.
When they feel that you are standing
beside them in their struggles
they are much more likely to let you in
and be open to your guidance.
2 thoughts on “Helping Kids With Their Fears – (Connection rather than Correction)”
I have fears from my childhood that still haunt me. I think if someone had accepted me ‘fears and all’, it might have been easier for me to accept myself. I don’t mean just in times of fear but at all times.
This is why i encourage parents to take such care about what they say and how they say it.
These things can really last all our lives!