It is natural for a preschooler to have fears. First of all, anxiety is a natural state that helps us cope with new experiences and avoid danger.
Some 3-4 year olds are afraid of things like bugs, dogs, darkness, clowns, and some are afraid of meeting new situations and new people. Such fears persist throughout the preschool period because children’s unbridled imaginations cause them to worry about creatures, health, death, disaster, and pain. Pain is one of the most common fears. For this reason, they want tape to be attached at the slightest cut or scratch.
Around the age of 5, they begin to fear animals, natural disasters such as fire, storm, earthquake. The fears of the dark and being left at home continue. The images of crime, violence, war and disaster they watch on television also cause anxiety. A 5-year-old also worries about the health of loved ones if there has been an illness, accident or death in the family in the recent past. The shy or introverted child may also be afraid of meeting strangers, going into crowded places, or social activities such as a birthday party. In many children, fears fade as the child feels safe and secure.
What Should You Do?
First, admit that you have a fear. His fears may seem absurd and unrealistic, but for him these fears are extremely real and serious. Don’t laugh when he tells you that he is scared, that there is something in his room, under his bed. Ask what the fear or what it fears looks like, how it feels. When you clear her doubts and comfort her, she will learn that fear is natural. Fears do not disappear when we ignore them, on the contrary, it is necessary to talk about it. Trying to convince him that there is nothing to fear will only backfire. For example, saying “nothing to fear” to a child who is afraid of dogs will make him/her more upset and worried. Instead, “I understand that the dog frightens you. Now let’s pass by together. If you don’t want to do that, I’ll hug you until you pass us by.” Saying it will put him at ease.
If you think that your child’s fear is caused by anger or anxiety about a new situation (such as starting school, a new person coming to school), you can make him express his feelings with dramatization games.
Use the objects he likes. Some children feel more comfortable when their favorite objects such as pillows and toys are with them. These toys are important for relieving anxiety when the child is dropped off at school or put in bed. These objects also make it easier for the child to overcome fearful situations such as meeting new people, joining a playgroup, going to the doctor. For this reason, it is necessary to allow him to carry the object he loves with him. Don’t say it’s “babyish”.
Some children can overcome this when given a realistic and simple explanation of the object/event that frightens them. Afraid of getting lost in the crowd, the boy said, “As long as you stand by me and hold my hand, we will not lose each other. If we accidentally break up with each other, stay where you are, I’ll find you,” and this will reduce his fear.
If the fear stems from previous experiences such as getting a shot/vaccination, never lie to him about it, and don’t paint a very bad picture. Just say it might hurt a little when the needle goes in for the first time, it won’t last long, and you’ll do something fun together after it’s over, and do it.
Find the problem solution together. For example, if he is afraid of the dark, put a nightlight in his room. In night terrors, you can use different tactics such as putting the favorite toy next to him, spraying the room with “monster spray” (put water in a spray bottle, the child should not know that the bottle is water). Don’t expect her to overcome her fears right away. This can sometimes take months or even years.
Play dramatization games. If he’s afraid of the doctor, play with the doctor’s set to show what’s going on there. If he is afraid of costumes, wear different clothes together and paint your face.
Don’t show your fear. When he sees that you are afraid, he will be afraid of the same objects or situations. You may say that you were afraid of going to the dentist as a child, but that you have healthy teeth because you went to the dentist. In this way, your child will both feel that he is not alone and see how the fear is overcome.
It’s also helpful to read a book about what she’s afraid of, watch a show, or experience that situation. For example, if he is afraid of insects, you can watch a documentary together. For fear of the dark, you can stick glowing stars on the ceiling of your room and watch these stars together in the dark room.
If fears have begun to affect his daily life, for example, if he refuses to go to bed because he is afraid of the dark, or if he refuses to leave the house because he is afraid of encountering a dog, you should definitely seek help from a specialist.