It’s every parent’s dream to raise confident and happy kids who would eventually become strong and successful adults. You want to equip them with skills that will enable them to face challenges head-on and seize opportunities as they come.
But as a parent, how can you help them overcome fears that hold them back from reaching their full potential?
It’s normal to feel afraid. Fear, after all, is a human emotion that naturally occurs to warn us of possible dangers. A healthy dose of fear empowers us to protect ourselves. Having too much of it, however, can paralyse us into inaction and prevent us from discovering what we’re truly capable of.
Help your children develop a bold, fearless, and resilient mindset with these tips.
- Never Dismiss Their Fears
Telling your children not to be afraid is not an effective way to help them deal with their fears. Acknowledge what they’re afraid of. You might think it’s silly, but that fear is very real to them as pain is relative. They need to know that you understand what they feel and you are there to help them. Give them a chance to talk about it and listen to what they have to say. Recognising the fear is the first step towards overcoming it.
- Make Them Understand That Failure Is Part of The Learning Process
Society can put an immense pressure on people to succeed that we sometimes forget that failure can be an option. To fail is to learn to do things better next time and grow as individuals. The world’s greatest inventors went through a series of heartbreaking attempts before succeeding. Had the inventors given up, we would not be enjoying the fruits of their labour today. Fear of failure should not keep your kids from trying new experiences and pushing their limits. Let them know that failing sometimes is okay; set an example by showing them how you’ve turned a personal setback into a something positive.
- Don’t Let Your Fears Be Theirs
They may not be aware of it, but many parents are guilty of passing on their fears to their children. In reality, you might not be able to completely hide your fears from your kids at all times. That’s normal; you are human after all. What you can do is talk to them and explain to them that you can be afraid of things that they shouldn’t be. Share how you learned how to deal with your own fears with them.
- Help Them Identify What They’re Actually Afraid Of
When people say they’re afraid of something, it’s often the case that what they’re actually afraid of is another (related) situation. People who say they are afraid of flying are actually more afraid of the possibility that they might crash; they’re okay with the flight itself. Children, therefore, who say that they’re afraid of monsters in their closet are not actually afraid of the idea that monsters might be in the closet; they’re terrified that they might come out to hurt them. To overcome a fear, it’s important that you and your kids can point out what they’re really afraid of, and face it together.
- Explain To Them Why Facing Their Fears Can Be A Good Thing
Children can be so caught up in what they’re afraid of that they don’t realise that overcoming them might do them a world of good.
Walk them through what happens when they face a fear, how it can benefit them and what situations and experiences it might lead to. Be open to their questions and encourage them to think positive. This will help them look at their fears from a new perspective.
- Remind Them If They’ve Successfully Overcome A Fear Before
Give your children a confidence boost by reminding them of occasions where they were afraid to try something new, such as joining a sports team or visiting the dentist, but ended up having a pleasant time. They’ve done it before, so they can do it again!
- Don’t Compare Your Children To Others
When it comes to facing their fears, different children have different coping mechanisms; there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, like we’ve said before: pain is relative. Focus your attention on your children and the fears they have to overcome. Comparing them with their classmates or playmates will only make them feel inadequate and insecure about themselves.
- Teach Them The Difference Between Valid, Life-Saving Fears And Ones That Aren’t
There are fears that are valid and those that are irrational. By knowing the difference, you and your children will know which fears they should overcome and those that should remain. Talking to strangers in the street or crossing a very busy road without a pedestrian crossing is a valid fear. Taking medicine or being anxious about what’s under their beds at night is not.
- Let Them Know That It’s Okay To Face Fears Slowly But Surely
There are times when the best way to address a fear is to tackle it head on. But sometimes, it has to be dealt with finesse and caution. Your children need to know that taking the slow and steady route is okay, that they can take their time. If they feel afraid and overwhelmed, show them that it can be approached in stages, and that they don’t have to move on to the next one if they’re not yet comfortable or ready. Map out the stages together so that they are aware of what’s going to happen.
- Make Them Feel That You’re There Every Step Of The Way
We believe that one of the best things that you as a parent can do for your children is to constantly reassure them that they don’t have to face their fears by themselves; you, their friends, and their family are there to help them through it. Knowing that you are there for them whatever may happen gives your children the confidence to embrace the unknown and take a step forward.
How do you help your kids face their fears? Tell us on the comments section below!