While some parents are debating whether or not the Star Wars movie is too scary for their kids, maybe it’s timely to talk about young children and fears.Kids will have fears. Night time is one of the more common time for fears to be an issue simply because kids are quiet. With only a minimal amount of distractions to run interference, it’s easy for those fears to become ‘top of mind.’ Especially fear of the dark. Well, to be more specific, fear of all the things that might be lurking in the dark, like monsters in the closet or under the bed.
Many children are also afraid of loud noises, like fire alarms and fireworks. These can be painful for young ears that have such sensitive hearing. Some kids are frightened of animals and bugs.
We can’t tell kids not to be scared, there’s nothing to be afraid of. But we can help them deal with their fears.
Some kids find a night light reassuring. This one shines stars on the ceiling and walls. Monster spray is also a practical and clever solution. This is a spray bottle filled with mostly water and something that smells appealing. Lavender or geranium have the advantage of promoting sleep, but even a bit of a nice smelling shampoo can be pleasant. When kids smell it, they know it is working against monsters.
Another possibility is bringing fears into the light. Scary night monsters don’t seem nearly so bad when kids draw them on a paper and color them. Or, use a white board and then erase the picture AND the monster. There are also some great children books that talk about other kids who are scared too. For animals and bugs, it can be helpful to have a positive experience, like visiting a bug zoo.
Whatever we choose to do, we need to acknowledge fears in a matter-of-fact voice, listen and answer questions, and find ways to reassure kids. This is even effective for adult fears. What have you found to be helpful for young children and fears?