Fear, Helpful or Harmful, and is There a Balance?

Image  I think fear is complicated. I believe some fear we, as care givers, impose upon the children under our charge, and not necessary; other fears are very necessary. In the light of recent events of elementary school shootings it is becoming increasingly difficult to allow our children “normal, free” childhoods. Back in the day when I was growing up I remember walking to school alone when I was in kindergarten without a fear in the world. Now it is a completely different animal to walk to school. Of course my mom told me to walk in a group or with at least one other person, not to talk to strangers etc. I followed those rules implicitly, and I remember some of my friends going right up to cars to give directions to total strangers, and the fear in my heart was pounding, and anticipation of something bad happening. I believe that was a healthy amount of fear, and I carry it with me to this day.

Today our children face so much more, and now I think it is up to the adults in their lives to teach them balance. The entire world isn’t meant to be fearful, all people aren’t meant to be feared but where is that balance?

It is extremely important that the people who are in your children’s lives on a regular basis be consistent with their love, care, and discipline. There is absolutely no excuse for an adult to fly off the handle for no apparent reason (and having a bad day is NOT a reason). We need to be in control of our emotions when we are around our children. Trust me, they will sense that there is something wrong if something isn’t quite right but it is up to you to calmly let them know that I or we are having a bad day, I’m or we are upset due to what is happening but it has nothing to do with you.

Simple things like stopping to tickle a child when asked establishes trust between you and your children. It will give them a sense of control which is a wonderful thing to have when combating fear. When a child feels that they can control their own personal space they learn to trust themselves and the adults in their lives to keep them safe. Confidence is a super important characteristic for a child to have in order to sense realistic fear, and unrealistic fear. By giving your children a healthy sense of confidence by trusting THEM, and what they feel is uncomfortable, difficult etc. will allow them to develop confidence in their perceptions. When you teach them trust of you they will grow confident that you won’t steer them into danger. Children shouldn’t be afraid to climb trees, run down a hill, hang from a monkey bar, and do all the activities that they love BUT you need to be there if or when they bite off more then they can chew, and possibly get hurt. When an adult is there to assist a child in learning about the world around them children will learn trust.

If there is an adult in your child’s life that doesn’t respect them, and continues to tickle them, for example, when the child says no or stop then you need to explain to that person that you are teaching your children that they have a say in what happens to them, and that when the child asks them to stop they need to respect that request. If that person doesn’t follow that rule then that person should only be with your children on a limited basis if at all.

Children will learn to fear more and more as they grow older. They will care about their peers perceptions of them and fear will be created. They will have heartbreak which will teach them fear to love, etc. but it is up to us, as adults to teach our children early that life is meant to be loved, lived, and enjoyed with all its hurts, and mishaps along the way.

Teach your children to be cautious around strangers, and people that they don’t know, never approach anyone within arms length, never approach a car for any reason (to see a puppy, cat, give directions etc.), and most importantly that you will love them through all of it, and always always be there for them and, actually, be there for them when they need you.