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Childhood Fears

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Date: March 30, 2020
Agent: Nicki Carpenter

Hello. This is Nicki Carpenter with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Burke County Center.

As children get old enough to watch more television or read news headlines, they’re suddenly exposed to realities that they didn’t know existed. Children that have been abandoned, homes that have been destroyed, victims of automobile accidents, and times of illness. The world becomes a scary place.

During the day a child can find distraction from these fears in various ways in play; school work or in other activities. But alone in the evening, suppressed fears come bubbling up. The first step in helping a child overcome fear is acknowledge it’s reality. Even though the basis of the fear, such as ghosts, may not be real, the fear itself is very real.

Ridicule or laughter will not decrease the fear. It will teach a child not to talk about his fears which is unfortunate because the best way to overcome fear is to talk about it with an adult who respects the child’s feelings.

The second step is to deal realistically with the fear. For example, take your child on a before bedtime tour of the house to make sure all the doors are locked so he or she won’t be so afraid of a break-in.

The third step is for parents to talk with their children about fears that they themselves have and how they overcome them. It can be very reassuring to a child to know that he or she is not alone and not the only one that is afraid.

One of the most harmful things about fears is the loneliness they bring, so let’s keep those lines of communication open.

Thank you. This has been Nicki Carpenter with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Burke County Center.