Dealing with Fear in Healthy Ways
The emotions we feel are natural and for a purpose; they are meant to be felt and understood, not stuffed away or brushed off. This is why it’s particularly important that we validate children’s emotions, as well as teach them how to deal with their feelings in healthy ways.
The key to dealing with emotions is preparation. If we can inform and instruct kids on the topic of emotions, they’ll be better prepared to handle them in a constructive manner.
And Moodkins are the perfect tools to get your conversations about emotions started!
In this post we’ll be looking at the feeling of fear. Specifically, how can we empower kids to face and overcome their fears? Read on for a five step process using Sir Scared-a-lot, our green Moodkin.
1. Look at the scared side of Sir Scared-a-lot. Talk about what it feels like to be scared. How does your body feel and what behaviors do you exhibit when you are angry (ie. accelerated breathing or heartrate, upset stomach, cold or sweaty hands)?
2. Discuss situations from the past when your child felt scared. (Remember to speak with an understanding tone of voice so your child feels safe to share.)
3. Discuss some ways your child has dealt with fear that are not healthy or effective (ie. hiding, withdrawing, panicking)
4. Talk about the validity of fears. Provide age-appropriate information regarding the specific fear to help your child understand whether their fears are based on reality or are imagined.
5. Brainstorm together and come up with some alternative ways of dealing with fear. Keep in mind your child’s personality and temperament and choose activities that will best meet his or her needs.
Here are some suggestions:
- Ask for help. Come up with a code word or action that will tell a trusted adult you are scared. Talk about why you are scared.
- Draw a picture of your fear and how you can overcome it.
- Establish a routine that may be helpful for dealing with the fear (ie. bedtime routine if fear is related to sleeping in the dark).
- Role play about facing the fear and overcoming it (ie. role play a doctor’s appointment with stuffed animals).
- Get active. Run around outside. Ride your bike. Do jumping jacks.
- Get a hug. Hug Sir Scared-a-lot.
- Listen to calming music.
- Read books about overcoming fears.
- Laugh; read funny books or watch funny videos to help release anxiety from the body.
- Any other activity that will help lower your child’s level of fear.
The key to dealing with fear is to have a game plan! So help your children come up with one today. Equip them and allow them opportunities to practice implementing their plan, to fail at times, but to always keep trying. With your encouragement, your child will learn how to better manage his or her feelings of fear and Sir Scared-a-lot will eventually have someone to share his smile with.
NOTE: If your child’s fears persist or become severe to the point where they interrupt your child’s ability to function on a daily basis, please seek help from a mental health professional. Your child’s school or doctor may be able to refer you to one.