Remember the boogeyman, the one that used to hide in your closet or under your bed when you were a child. Now as a parent, he has come back to visit your own children. Although as adults, we know there is no such thing as the “boogeyman,” in a child’s mind, the fear of him is all too real. With babies, they start out being afraid of nothing.
Without giving a second thought, they walk headfirst into situations that would scare the normal adult. However, as they get older, they start being afraid of their own shadow. A younger child who just months ago was poking the nose and ears of every stray dog they met now lets out the loudest scream you have ever heard just at the sight of a dog.
Small children do not show fear because they are ignorant to the dangers. As they grow, they take in everything around them and soon, their imaginations and curiosities come together into reality. Now they start connecting the dots of what happens when certain things are done. For example, as a small child, when you told them that putting something into a socket could shock and hurt them, they had no understanding of what that meant.
As a parent, you watched over them with an eagle eye to make sure they stayed away from all sockets. Now as they have gotten older and learned how to walk, they get out of your sight so fast. It is not long before they poke something into a socket and now they understand exactly what you meant. Parents have a responsibility to teach children, but there have actually been studies done that show overprotective parents or parents who constantly scream out warnings to their children actually make fears worse.
The most common fear that children have is the fear of dark. Just like with the boogeyman, they too have conjured up some big monster living in their closet or under their bed, just waiting until they are asleep at which time they will jump out and pounce on them. If you think about it, even adults have fears when they cannot see things in the dark. Now add in the mind of a child who does not have the ability to rationalize and you can understand why it is important not to make fun of their fears.
Okay, so what can you do? Actually, there are several tips that will help get your child past this fear. The first thing is to get your child a nightlight for his or her room, and always make sure you keep the bedroom door open – both theirs and yours. In the evening, make sure your child only watches positive and light things on TV, plays games, or is involved is some other form of activity that will not add to their imagination. This way, when they go to bed, their mind will be filled with good thoughts.
No teasing allowed and do not punish your child in any way. Instead, consider their fears as being real. Talk to your child about their fears. It is important to believe their fears are real, but do not go overboard, which could backfire and encourage the fear. It will take a little time before this phase goes away, but it will. Your support and honesty will help your child believe in them and in you.