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Handling scared children

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CHILDREN sometimes, become scared of one thing or the other at any given time. Things that are new, big, loud, or different can seem scary to them. Being scared is an emotion that can help these kids become cautious in all they do.

Meanwhile, according to a nurse at Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Teaching Hospital, Awka, Chinonso Udeh, “it is only parents that can help them overcome it and  feel safe as well as learn to feel at ease.”

Normally, what scares children differ from one another as they grow. Some of their fears are common and normal at certain ages. Take for instance; infants feel strange anxiety. When babies are about eight to nine months old, they can recognise the faces of people usually around them. That’s why whenever they see new faces, it could seem scary to them; even a new babysitter or relative. They may cry or cling to their parent to feel safe.

Not only that, toddlers feel anxious when lonely.. At some time between 10 months and two years, many toddlers start to fear being apart from a parent. They don’t want their parent to leave them at daycare, or at bedtime. They may cry, cling, and try to stay near their parent.

It doesn’t end there, Kids within the ages of four to six can imagine and pretend, but they cannot always tell what is real and what is not. To them, the scary monsters they imagine seem real. They fear what might be under their bed or in the closet. Many are afraid of the dark and at bedtime. Some are afraid of scary dreams. Young kids may also be afraid of loud noises, like thunder or fireworks. Older kids fear real-life dangers.

While kids who are seven or older; monsters under the bed can’t scare them (much) because they know they’re not real. At this age, some kids begin to fear things that could happen in real life. They may have a fear that a bad person is in the house. They may feel afraid about natural disasters they hear about. They may fear getting hurt or that a loved one could die. School age kids may also feel anxious about schoolwork, grades, or fitting in with friends.

“Pre-teens and teens may have social fears. They might feel anxious about how they look or whether they will fit in. They may feel anxious or afraid before they give a report in class, start a new school, take a big exam, or play in a big game”, she highlighted.

Nkem Emodi, a parent, revealed how most parents (precisely the fathers)relate to their young ones scare them. “There are fathers who scold their children with harsh voices at a little provocation. And such child, whenever he or she comes in contact with his father would begin to fret with the fear  of  being scolded.

There are also children who don’t stand hearing bad stories like death, robbers and so on, and those who don’t like seeing or watching horror films. Whenever they hear such stories or see such a thing would be scared of the unknown. So it’s better they are not allowed to witness such a thing to avoid being scared”, she stated.

They both advised, “when your child is afraid, you can help by comforting them, giving them hope why they should not be scared. Let your child know you are there to protect them. Give hugs and soothing words to help them feel safe.

As they grow, talk and listen. Be calm and soothing. Help your child put feelings into words. Help your kids try new things.

Again in the side of babies, help them get used to a new person while you hold him or her and let him or her feel safe. Soon, the new person won’t seem like a stranger anymore. Let your toddler be apart from you for short times at first. When you need to part from your child, say you’ll be back, give a hug and a smile, and go. Let your child learn that you will always come back for them.

For your young child who’s afraid of the dark, have a soothing bedtime routine. Read or sing to your child. Let your child feel safe and loved.

Help your child slowly face fears. For example, check together for under-bed monsters. With you there to support her, let your child see for herself there is nothing to fear. Make her feel encouraged.

Limit the scary images, movies, or shows kids see. These can cause fears”, they concluded.

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