The various fears of children can run the gamut from fear of abandonment to fear of physical harm. With children's fears, the source of their origins can also be something that parents will find difficult to trace or identify. It could be something they overheard or something they witnessed. It could be the residual impact of a dream or nightmare, or something a friend is going through that they fear will also happen to them. Whatever the reason or origin of a child’s fear, parents must take them at face value and seriously, at least until the issue can be resolved.
One of the more common fears of children falls into the all inclusive heading of “bogeyman.” This is the loathsome creature that lurks in the dark or under the bed and is the source of every creak and groan that a house makes in the middle of the night. Most, if not all children experience a bogeyman at some point in their childhood and they are usually simply outgrown.
The more serious and difficult to overcome fears of children are those that have some basis in reality. Children hearing parents argue may cause the child to fear a marital break-up; a child may fear walking to school because of threats of harm by older students; fear of parental punishment or parental disapproval. The list of sources of the fears of children is extensive and parents have to be observant and address the issue quickly in order to best mitigate against the growth of the fear into a life altering threat.
Most fears of children creep into their lives during moments of vulnerability. Arguing parents or becoming lost in a store may be the source of fear of abandonment. The child may assume he or she is the cause of the arguing, or may conclude that a parent purposely left him or her alone in the store. Whether true of not, the child’s self esteem and sense of security is what is left vulnerable.
Most parents believe their primary duties include providing food and shelter, an education, a safe environment, and a measure of discipline. Often forgotten are emotional security and the development of self confidence and self esteem. Emotional security is easily and readily achieved by letting a child know that he or she is unconditionally loved, wanted and accepted as a full member of the family. There can never be enough reminders passed out, whether given verbally or by action. Self confidence and self esteem are like savings accounts; they compound. Your child’s achievements need to be praised and rewarded often.
The ultimate goal in dealing with the fears of children is to not have to deal with them at all by supplying the child with enough personal self confidence and self esteem. A confident child builds a sense of power and is equipped with the necessary tools to either deal with the occasional fear or be able to differentiate between a real threat and a bogeyman.