We have all had our fears growing up. Reading this book to my son a night before author speak session at his school reminded me of them…fear of monsters/ghosts, fear of lizards, fear of darkness, fear of scissors used during a haircut…and the list goes on! I also got reminded of some of my own unusual childhood fears – fear of WATER and FIRE.
While my fears were instilled because of some life incidents, more often than not fears in children are instilled by parents. Many of our fears continue till adult age (e.g., fear of lizards) and we often pass them on to our children. We also resort to them to discipline our children (drink your milk or else…) or protect them (beware of strangers).
We often forget that they can deeply impact our child’s psychology, develop into bigger fears when they grow up, such as fear of failure, and come in the way of raising a POSITIVE and HAPPY child. When I realised my 5 year old did not raise his hand when all children were talking about their fears during the session, I thought more deeply about what I had been doing to raise a FEARLESS CHILD…
1. SEE AND TALK ABOUT THE BEAUTY OF ‘UGLY’ THINGS – We often talk about beautiful colours and patterns of masks that adorn the walls of every corner of our house instead of describing them as ugly monsters or ghosts. We observe and enjoy discussing the changing colours of a chameleon. We also read books that portray ‘scary things’- mouse, snakes and lizards – in a positive light.
2. NEVER PUSH YOUR CHILD BEFORE THEY ARE READY – I developed a fear of water which took me years to shed off my skin because I was pushed into the swimming pool by my older brother where I almost drowned. I have never pushed my child into an activity which he is not willing to try himself.
3. DO NOT BE OVERPROTECTIVE – Taking my child up and down narrow and dark alleys of monuments from a young age has certainly helped in preventing fear of darkness or heights. Telling him not to talk to people he has never met before and not how bad things will happen to him if he does, has helped to warn him about strangers without instilling fear.
4. ADDRESS THEIR FEARS FROM A YOUNG AGE – When I realised that he had started fearing dogs a bit because we don’t own a pet, we decided to learn the names of dogs in our building and say hello to them or talk lightly about their moods when they are barking at us during our evening walks.
So what do I do to keep my child off things that can harm him? Simply say NO in a firm voice instead of instilling fear. What do I do to discipline my child when he is not listening to me? Try to lure him in through opportunities he will miss on (e..g, playing with a best friend if he doesn’t finish his milk on time) instead of scaring him with ghosts or lizards! And what do I often remind myself day in day out at work – KEEP MOVING FORWARD FEARLESSLY!