Written by Series Guest Blogger, Brooks Weatherspoon, a father of twin 12 year old girls that will give us insight into A Day in Fatherhood!
When I was a child, I was deathly afraid of spiders. Every single time I climbed into my bed, I felt spiders crawling up my legs. It was a fear that developed after a late-night viewing of Shock Theater classic, Tarantula. Watching those creepy crawling spiders put the fear in my brain and I was very careful to keep it to myself. One reason was because I was embarrassed by the fear and the other was because I knew I would get my tail whipped for watching such a film. Whatever the case, my childhood fears went on unchecked for the majority of my elementary school years. Ultimately, I got to hold a tarantula during school one day when a zoologist visited and the fear vanished. I was quite lucky it would appear because many children never lose their childhood fears.
As the father of two twin daughters who had their share of childhood fears, I did learn some life lessons about how to handle them. Here are five of the best lessons I learned:
When you are a child, fear can be all-encompassing. Many children try to tell their parents about their fears and particularly around bedtime. Naturally, parents end up thinking that the child is trying to stall for time. Although that may be true with some children, the vast majority of kids are reaching out because you are their safety net. If you ignore their request, it can have major repercussions that last a lifetime. Acknowledging the fear that your child is experiencing is absolutely vital. The last thing you want is for your child to think it is abnormal or different for them to be afraid of something.
Admit Your Fears
No matter how old we get, we still remember our childhood fears. Just like my childhood fear of spiders is clear in my brain, all of us have something we were afraid of. Admitting these fears can help our children see that being afraid of something is a natural part of life. Over time, the fears will dissipate and knowing that their big strong daddy had fears also will only speed up that process.
Share Overcoming Stories
Most children have already overcame fears in their short life. For example, my daughter Brooke has expressed a fear of the dark. After some time in conversation and a few moments of sharing time together in the woods at night, she seems to have overcome a good portion of the fear. Reminding your child of previous fears that they overcame will help them to overcome new fears as they pop up.
Reassure and Comfort
Nothing can overcome fear quite as effectively as reassurance and a big old hug. When your child is afraid, it is your job to take them in your arms and remind them of how safe they are. This tried-and-true method will always be the best.
Leave Exposure Therapy to the Experts
While I did take my daughter out into the dark woods, I also made sure that there was light from the parking lot nearby. Also went with her and brought her sister along. Having the comfort of us both with her help her to not be afraid. Some parents believe that flooding their child with the very fear that they have is a good way to overcome the fear. This type of exposure therapy is not a good idea when it comes to childhood fears. If you are interested in exposure therapy, you should contact a licensed therapist or psychologist.
What other tips do you have to help quell childhood fears?