Thursday 26 May 2016
Fears Explained! And how to help children with fears.
I've always had a interest in this topic since learning about it during my studies to become a childcare practitioner.
Fears are something we all have and some we have had since we were children and some are new and start in our adulthood. Sometimes we have a fear of something and we don't even know why we have it ourselves. Sometimes our children are afraid of things and we don't understand why.
Some children fears will never be explained and could just be as simple as that they are a very loud noise. For example Lily is terrified of the hand dryers in bathrooms.
But I want to share with you what I do know and what I have learnt about fears as I think its a topic you will also be interested in knowing about.
Firstly let me state that my knowledge on the subject is what I learnt in collage, and that was a good 10 years ago. Since then I'm sure there is a lot more out there that you can learn about fears, and I'm not about to go searching the internet and copying and pasting facts I read, I would just like to tell you the basics that I know.
Firstly lets talk about common fears.
Spiders, Snakes, Heights, Water, The dark, Closed in spaces.
You will be happy to know if you have one, or a few of the fears above, that you can't help having it, its simply already programmed into your mind through genes to be afraid of them.
These fears all originate from the caveman days, where you lived outdoors, where spiders and snakes could be poisonous, you could not turn on a light to see what was in the dark, you lived out into the wild where you had more chance of drowning or falling from heigh places.
Now we can switch on a light to see what is in a room. Now a lot of the snakes and spiders we have around us aren't poisonous (if you live in the Uk that is) and we generally aren't sleeping out in the wild with them any more. A lot of heigh places are actually quite safe now like tall buildings. But we still have these fears. You would not catch me up the shard! I'm a wuss. Still scared of the dark and panic if I'm in a room and can't get a light on. Scared of spiders, I know they won't hurt me but erghhh. I don't like heights and I used to be scared of snakes. I do find it interesting to know why I'm scared of these things.
Next we have those fears that sometimes, you just don't know why your scared. These fears could be from when something happened to you as a child and you don't remember it. For example, when I was a child I was scared of dogs, all the way up to about 10 years old. My mum and dad tell me that when I was a baby in a pram a boxer dog came up to me and give me a big sloppy lick on the face and it made me cry. So although at the age of say 7-8 years old I couldn't remember that incident happening. The fear is programmed into me so when I see a dog I remember fear.
Another example maybe be this one. I knew a person scared of walking under a bridge, she said that it wasn't in case the bridge came down, she didn't know why she didn't like it but she just didn't. We will never know exactly what is was that caused the fear but it could have been something as simple as a bird flew past her really fast as a baby while under a bridge and made her jump and so whenever she saw a bridge she associated that bridge with the feeling of fear.
Interesting isn't it?
Fears are actually easy to overcome, though as adults we don't always want to overcome them. Simply we just need to get used to the things we fear and re programme our minds that they are not scary. But sometimes that does mean being scared in the first place and were not always happy to do that. You would not catch me holding a spider. But as I said, I did overcome my fear of dogs and snakes.
With dogs, when I was 10, my dad bought a German Sheppard puppy, and because he was my own puppy I wasn't scared. Instead when he got brought home he came running at me and jumped on me licking me I instantly loved him.
With Snakes I was a little bit older, about 18 years old. I was doing my practice work in a nursery at the time and they had a day where they brought in snakes for the children to have there photographs taken. All the children were touching the snake and so when I got it held out for me to touch, I couldn't act scared in front of the children and I touched it. It actually felt a lot nicer than I though and later that day I held it. I then spent the rest of the day being the person who placed the snake around the children's neck. That was it. Fear gone.
My most recent fear I tried to overcome was heights, when in Prague I went up the tower. I only lasted 5 min up there but was very happy to have done it. I think this is one that is a tricky one to overcome as it can be a case of vertigo to where you get all dizzy and feel like your going to fall. Simply vertigo is your bodies way of telling you your to high up.
Its so important to try and deal with children's fears as soon as possible as its a lot easier to get over a fear as a child than it is a adult. Here are a few of my tips of what I would do -
1. Make sure you don't show your own fears to your children. They can very easily pick up on them and pick up on your panic and start to be frightened themselves.
2. Don't brush off a fear like its no big deal, or tell them that its silly to be scared. Remember none of us really understand why we are scared, and so a child definitely won't understand and you want your child to come to you with their fears, not feel silly about them.
3. Keep calm and don't panic, its quite easy to get flustered when your child is getting upset over something and you getting worked up will just make the child feel even more scared.
4. Don't avoid your child's fears, for example Lily is scared of the hand dryers and so if I'm in a public bathroom I won't not dry my hands just because she is scared of them. If I avoid them she will never get used to them and learn that they are not actually scary. Or with dogs, don't avoid houses with dogs in.
5. Explain/ Show your child that its not scary. Cause excitement about the thing she is scared of. I have actually danced about at a hand dryer and gone ooooooo wow and tried to show Lily that it is drying my hands.
6. Don't force a child to face their fear, encourage them, but let them do it in there own time. For example with dogs, let the child get used to them before trying to get them to stroke one. Rushing it may only make them panic more.
I hope some tips may help and if you have any more questions please feel free to comment below and ask.
Would love to know about some fears you have or your children have.