As a baby and toddler, the child knows and understands too little of the environment. However, as a child learns more about the world, their fears and anxieties may increase. Some fears are about real things, and some are about things that do not exist.
The most common fears in middle childhood include:
- Fear of the dark
- Supernatural beings (such as ghosts and monsters)
- Separation or divorce of their parents (separation anxiety)
- Fear of meeting people
- Fear of dogs
4 most common fears in middle childhood
- Fear of the dark
- Many children are scared of being in a dark room or any other dark place. This can make them believe that a monster or ghost is under the bed when the light goes out. This fear can rob peaceful sleep in an otherwise healthy child. They can get up in the middle of the night and scream out of fear. This fear may be intensified if you expose your child to scary movies close to their bedtime.
- Separation anxiety
- Separation anxiety is common in this age group. A child is afraid to be left alone—they cannot stand being away from an attachment figure, such as a mother or father. They always express the need to be near their parents or caregivers. If left alone frequently, they can even develop physical problems such as stomachache. These youngsters might even be reluctant to attend a summer camp or even their school.
- Fear of meeting people
- Some children may avoid meeting people outside their family. This may keep them from making friends at school or in the neighborhood. They may avoid playing with other children or attending any social parties such as birthday parties.
- Fear of death
- When children develop an understanding of death, such as when they know that someone who dies never comes back, they may start fearing the idea of death. The knowledge that death is inevitable and everyone is going to leave this world can make kids constantly reel under the fear of death.
10 tips to help your child with any fear or anxiety
As a parent or caregiver, it may be distressing for you to watch your child suffer from any type of constant fear or anxiety.
Here are a few ways in which you can help your child ward off these fears:
- Educate your child about death or war, and let them know they are free to ask any questions.
- Make them comfortable so that they feel free to share their fears with you. Ask them to pinpoint what exactly makes them fearful.
- Handle your child’s fear and anxieties with sympathy and understanding. Do not make fun of or dismiss your child’s feelings. Let your child know that you know how they feel about their fears.
- Start exposing your child gradually to the object or thing they fear. For example, if they fear dogs, perhaps start making them comfortable by showing pictures of the dog getting along with humans. Make them come closer to a gentle, small dog that is tied to some pole. Let them stand and observe the dog. You can touch the dog so that they know there is nothing to be afraid of the animal.
- If your child is fearful of burglars intruding at home, make sure you involve them in making the home secure. Show them the security measures around the house, such as locks. Ask them to shut and lock their bedroom window every night.
- If your child is afraid of the dark, install a dim light in your child’s room, or let some light from the hallway lit their room. You can put a lamp by their bedside so they can switch on the light themselves before going to sleep.
- If your child is scared of monsters or ghosts at night, reassure them that there is no such thing that exists and that they are safe. Do not check the cupboards or under the bed to show them there are no monsters. This may make them believe monsters do exist but currently they are not there—which means they may think that these supernatural things can come when they are alone.
- Make sure whatever they read or watch on the television or smartphone is appropriate for their age. News footage about wars, scary movies, or scary books is frightening for a child, which can give them nightmares and make them difficult to sleep peacefully at night.
- Fears and anxiety make your child stressed. Regular exercise helps reduce stress levels. Encourage your child to indulge in physical activities during the day. Let them play with other kids in the garden, encourage them to ride a bicycle, or enroll them in a swimming class.
- Look for books that talk about managing childhood fears, both for the parents and child. There are plenty in the market. Read them. You may find useful practical tips that you can apply in daily life to ease your child’s anxiety.
If you are unable to handle your child’s fear or anxieties on your own, take the help of a child counselor, therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist.
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