Set an Example
If at all possible, one of the best ways to destigmatize an event in a child’s life is to demonstrate that the activity isn’t dangerous. Whether this means jumping off a diving board into a swimming pool, or trying a strange piece of food first, setting an example for your child is a simple method for comforting them and assuaging their fears. Note, this technique is particularly effective with toddlers and young children. Monkey-see, monkey-do after all.
Prepare them for Real Emergencies
Children –– and people in general –– are often most afraid of what they’ve never encountered before. As such, kids can sometimes be confused about what constitutes a dangerous situation and what doesn’t. Given that fact, parents can help put their children’s minds at ease by preparing them for genuine emergencies. Once a child is able to differentiate between the mundane and the threatening, they’ll have more confidence in themselves as a result.
Build Up to It
In the past, parents may have employed a tough-love approach to help their kids overcome their fears. Yet, this isn’t always the best way to handle a delicate situation. Instead, it’s often a better play to gradually introduce your child to irrational fear and allow them to slowly get accustomed to it. Just as parents teach their child any lesson –– whether it be about money, or love, or in this instance, fear –– starting small is typically a good idea.
Parents can remove a lot of the fear a child associates with an object, activity, or place by educating them about it. Take, for instance, the doctor’s office. Many children naturally feel anxious about going to see the doctor. There are lots of unfamiliar people, sights, sounds, smells, and instruments there. Yet, if you take the time to help your child get to know their pediatrician –– along with the equipment they use like a stethoscope or luer adapter, for instance –– you’ll likely find that their fear will dissipate as a result.
Be Patient and Supportive
It’s important to remember that no one deals with stress and anxiety in exactly the same way. So don’t get frustrated with your child if they harbor an irrational fear for longer than “normal.” Being patient and supportive is an essential aspect of good parenting. And though it can be difficult, it’s what’s best for you and your child.
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