Whether your children are scared of mythical monsters under the bed, spiders, or being teased by their peers, their fears are very real to them. Fearful children can imagine terrifying possibilities. But their creativity can work for or against them. Rather than letting them go through life afraid, teach your kids to work with their fear. Here are three suggestions for helping your children overcome their fears:
The Power of Suggestion
Offer your fearful child a new perspective. Suggest to him or her that what is feared might be a misunderstanding, exaggeration, or not really scary. Do not cast doubt on your child by saying that a ghost or monster does not exist. It actually does exist in his or her mind. Your truth is not your child’s reality.
Instead of negating your child’s belief, pose a question such as, “Could what you fear possibly be . . .?” (For example, for a child who’s fearful of monsters under the bed, offer them something like, “Do you think the monster would leave you alone if we left a plate of cookies for it?”) Offer your child an alternative thought, one that might be plausible to them, or just as mystifying, but with a positive and inspiring theme. This technique will open your child’s mind up to new possibilities!
Enlighten your child to the idea that being the boss of one’s own thoughts is very powerful. Explain to your child that it is not bad to change their mind about something, and that it is good to have an open mind. Tell them how we all jump to conclusions from time to time and it does not mean that your child is not smart.
You might use the analogy of a computer: Tell your child how our brains are like computers, in that we need input to perform. But input can be either positive or negative. Empower your child by teaching them to input positive thoughts, and to reflect on those thoughts often.
Positive Creative Visualization
Inquire into the details regarding your child’s fear. Ask questions, such as: “What does it look like? What do you think is the scariest thing that could possibly happen? “ Utilize this information in the form of an imaginary story that you, the parent, will create. Have your child face his or her fears in the story as a brave character, who is not afraid. You could invoke a protective imaginary shield around your child in your story to comfort him or her. End the story with a positive outcome. Teach your child how to contact this safe place every time fear enters their mind. This tool will enable your child to feel courageous and victorious!
Apply these simple and fun suggestions and your child will have a more open mind and a better ability to gain perspective, including choosing happy thoughts and reducing fear, at will.
Author Phoebe Lee writes about ADHD, children’s sleep issues, and parenting from a Buddhist perspective. She is the author of the new children’s picture book, “Monkey Mind: A Captivating Bedtime Story for Children” and the accompanying children’s audio, “Monkey, Fish, Dragon.” To follow her blog tour, see MonkeyMindBook.com or email her publicist at publicity@MonkeyMindBook.com