Deniz was 10 years old. He liked to spend time on the computer and played various games. Although the content of these games included themes such as violence and fear, Deniz did not care about this and even continued to play by enjoying this situation.
But in the evening, what he was doing was turning into a nightmare for him and he was starting to get very scared. When it was time to sleep, he did not want to sleep in that room alone and did his best to prevent it.
“Mom, sleep with me, I’m afraid of sleeping alone,” he said, trying to persuade his mother to sleep with him, and even crying. Since her mother is very upset about this situation, Deniz stays with her until she falls asleep and sometimes so that she does not get used to this situation – You have become a big man. She left him alone in the dark, thinking she was encouraging by saying you could sleep alone.
Trying to cope with this fear, Deniz struggled with herself throughout the night and prayed that the nightmare would end.
But when the nightmare was over with the sunrise, he felt safe and went back to the things that scared him, forgetting what he felt at night.
How does the child think?
Fear is unique to everyone, but shape-shifting for every age period. Some children fear the dark, loneliness, ostracism, thunder or animals, while others fear not making friends, failing, or losing a loved one. All these types of fear are different for each age period and if the right approach is not shown, it will not go away completely, it will only change shape.
In the story, Deniz was turning the violent and horror games he played during the day into reality in his mind when it was time to sleep in the evening. This led to problems such as fear of the dark and sleep problems. Deniz’s mother, on the other hand, was unconsciously feeding Deniz’s fear with wrong approaches and making her believe that there was really something to be afraid of. Deniz wants her mother to stay with her until she falls asleep, and when her mother says “Okay, I’m with you, there’s nothing to be afraid of,” the child’s fear deepened.
Deniz said, “My mother – I’m here, don’t be afraid, so there is something that will hurt me when my mother is not there. The things I fear are real.” When the child thinks this way, he always avoids sleeping alone and always wants his mother by his side. The fact that his mother sometimes stays with him and sometimes does not stay with him does not help the child to overcome this situation, but also causes other problems. The child, whose fear is fed by the wrong attitudes of his parents, turns into an individual with a high level of anxiety, low self-perception, and problematic human relations in the future. In such a case, the fear does not go away completely, it just starts to change according to the conditions as the age progresses.
What can you do?
• First of all, keep in mind that being afraid is a natural action, and approach your child with this in mind. Like the mother in the story, ‘You have become a big man’ or ‘Is the man afraid?’ etc. If you use negative statements, you will make the child feel judged and belittled. Therefore, instead of such erroneous sentences, ‘I understand you are afraid, but you do not try to stay away from the things that scare you. You should try this for a while. Yes, I love you so much, but I can’t wait until you fall asleep every time. You need to find a way to overcome your fear. If I’m always on your side or sleeping with you, you will never be able to overcome your fear. Therefore, we will continue by reducing this process. We will complete it in a week until you fall asleep on the first day, 30 minutes the next day, and 5 minutes each day. And after that, you will no longer call me to sleep with you. If you stay away from the things that scare you until then, you will overcome your fear more quickly. ‘ you can say. In this form of communication, the message you give to your child is that the child creates the fear through wrong actions (violent games that he cannot give up), as a result of this, you value him by staying with him for a certain period of time (being next to him for a week during sleep), and then he finds a solution by struggling with this problem. is to convey that he should seek his ways (to face his fear alone).
• Sometimes children focus on stories rather than advice and receive messages from those stories. If there are no stories specific to the situation you are in, go through the examples for coping skills. Give examples and ask questions to support your explanation above. For example, if you lock someone who is afraid of dogs in a room, how would that person feel on the first day? What will he do if he is told that he has to live with the dog in the room until he loves, caresses, and hugs that dog in the next days? After a few days, does the fear of the person living in the same room with the dog decrease? Is his fear like he was afraid at the beginning? Will he get used to the dog over time? Does he love that dog as he spends time together? When he sees that the dog is not hurting him, he just wants to be loved, does he realize that he has been afraid for nothing? And will he finally overcome his fear of dogs? If you ask such questions, you will both improve the cognitive skills of the child and indirectly teach the steps of fear and how the solution is realized.
• Tell stories or provide examples using different names and different fears, not their own fears. Otherwise, it does not take you into consideration and this creates a communication problem between you. Because parents always give advice to children and they don’t want to hear advice anymore.
• Do not show yourself fearless. You can talk about your own fears, even if they are not the fears of your children, along with the reasons. Some adults have fear of heights, fear of insects, fear of not being alone or sleeping alone, etc. There are varieties. How effective can be the words of the parent who tells the child not to be afraid of the dark and is afraid of the dark. This causes the child to distrust the parent and increase the fear he/she experiences. Because, according to the child, while his mother or father is afraid of the dark, but pretending not to be afraid, lying and not being able to overcome this fear all this time, it gives rise to the belief that he will never be able to overcome it. So tell the truth and give adequate explanations. Don’t say ‘it’s a child as soon as he understands, it passes’. Have you passed? No.