We have been thinking about overcoming fears lately and the party that my daughter attended over the weekend showed me how important it is to start practicing this from an early age.
What types of fears do you have?
I’m sure that everybody is afraid of something. My main fear, that I am quite embarrassed about, is being in a car. Using a car is a necessity and always has been for me but for years now, I have been an absolutely awful passenger on most of the journeys I have been on and have avoided driving as much as possible. I hate it. I hate that I worry about going in a car so much and I hate that this normal thing is a big fear of mine.
I know people that are petrified of rats, balloons and clowns. Other people I know are scared of wasps, spiders and dying. No matter what your fear, it is natural and normal for us to be afraid of some things.
Since having children of my own, I have seen them grow and develop in many ways. This has included discovering fears that they have. They have had fears of spiders, moths, dogs and more recently, the large slide at the soft play area.
Do adults influence the fears that children have?
I think that for some fears, adults do influence children. My son used to be scared of dogs. An adult close to my son was scared of dogs from a young age, due to being bitten by one. This fear of dogs from the adult was very evident as when a dog was close by, this adult would actively move away from the dog or push it away if it wanted stroking. My son soon learned that dogs were not animals to that should be trusted. He started off being wary of dogs, which is a natural reaction to have when first meeting something new. After watching these behaviours by the adult and listening to the adult talking negatively about dogs, my son developed his fear soon afterwards. When he saw even the smallest of dogs walking down the street, he started to cry and hide behind me until it was gone. One lady walking her dog could not understand why he would react like this to such a tiny dog.
For my daughter, her main fear so far has been the big slide at the soft play area. As a little girl faced with this long , fast ride from height, I can understand this fear. I am pleased that she was cautious about going on it. I am glad that she did not just see fear and jump straight in.
Overcoming fears in childhood
I think that for fears such as those my children have had, they can be overcome by facing up to them. The way my son overcame his fear was for us to have a dog as part of our family. We discussed that it was natural to be wary of dogs, as they are animals after all and can sometimes be unpredictable. When we got our dog, he could see that she was not as much of a threat as he believed she was. It took him two weeks of talking to her and playing with her to be totally comfortable with her, after four years of feeling scared.
For my daughter, we went to the soft play area a couple of times. During the first time, she would not go near the slide. She knew it was there and that her brother enjoyed going on it but she would not entertain the idea of going anywhere near it. The second time we went, she decided that she wanted a go but was too frightened. She sat at the top of the slide and just cried. Her brother tried persuading her to go down but she just cried more. I went up and she sat on my knee at the top of the slide for a while. Then she asked to go down it. After a couple of false starts, we went down and H enjoyed it. It took two more goes on my knee before she wanted to try it on her own. She did it though! Plus, she only played on the slide for over half an hour after that and had a huge smile each time.
Hopefully, I can overcome my fear before my children follow my example. What are your fears? How have you overcome your fears?