Young Children and Fears

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.young children and fearsKids 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.

young children and fearsSome 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?

Art Activities from Children’s Books

When it comes to art play and fun for your child, could you use some inspiration? How about some kid-tested ideas for art activities from children’s books?

Not all children have opportunities for art play. These kinds of activities are sometimes seen as a waste of time, or not academic enough. As a parent or caregiver, unless you are an artist, you may not know what to do. Combining children’s books and stories with art can help with both of these. Art and books stimulate development of visual and language skills. Stories and books switch on imaginations making it much easier to be creative.

Following are some possibilities for art activities based on children’s books. As a reminder, these are not craft projects that kids do step-by-step to copy a specific product. Instead, these are experiences and kids will come up with their own creations.

Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson, has been a popular story for decades. After reading this story, kids might like to draw or paint with just purple. If your child likes a different color, maybe it’s for a new story called _____ (Your Child’s Name) and the ______ (Favorite Color) Crayon. This one is Dee and the Black Crayon.

Dinosaurs are pretty popular with kids. Find any book about dinosaurs and using play dough or plasticine, kids can make their own dinosaurs. How do dinosaurs move? For some dance art, let kids move their bodies like dinosaurs.

The musical Cats was based on a book and played on Broadway for years. Can you and your child read about cats and then do some cat pretend play? There are hundreds and hundreds of other theatrical performances from books. Kids could add music.

Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are is another story for lots of movement art. Kids can also draw, paint, or create monsters from play dough or from items in the recycling . Check out the scrap materials and treasures.

Any suggestions for what to do for Lots of Dots by Craig Frazier? Paint some dots or use dot stickers. Paint dabbers make great dots.

Parents do not need to be artists to include art fun for kids. Has this inspired you to think of some other art activities with children’s books?

March into Fun with Books, Stories, and Activities #13

Beauty and the Beast Pretend Play-of-the-Day

The story of Beauty and the Beast and today’s play-of-the-day can help young children deal with the common fear of monsters and scary creatures. Some are afraid of such ordinary things as a vacuum or their own shadow. You can either read this story to your child or tell it using your own words.

Beauty_and_the_Beast_Little_Golden_BookAs a contrast to many other fairy tales, this time the girl comes to the rescue. A merchant, with a beautiful daughter, goes on a journey and picks a rose from a garden. Unfortunately, the garden belongs to a beast who demands the merchant bring back Beauty. She comes and stays, grows to like Beast, but misses her family. Beast lets her return but asks her to come back at a certain time. Beauty stays too long and Beast falls ill but returns just in time to save him from dying. Her kiss turns him back into a prince, breaking the evil witch’s spell.

 boy dancing pretend playThis is a fun story to act out after reading or telling because there’s so much action. Young children love and need to move. After sitting and reading this story, it’s time to get up and move around. Ask your child to walk like a beast or monster. You can do this too. Then, kids can try hopping crawling, jumping, and, if there’s enough space like a whole yard or gym, running like monsters. How would a monster fly? Do monsters swim? Kids may need to be reminded that it’s okay for monsters to growl but only outside or if they use an inside voice.

making faces pretend playMonsters can also make very scary faces and check themselves out in the mirror. Both boys and girls like to pretend being beasts or monsters. Children can use toys to be the characters. On YouTube there are short videos of the Muppets and Thomas the Tank. Here’s another done by kids.

Reading and talking about monsters and beasts, and pretending to be them in active play all help kids cope with fear of monsters. Any concerns with monsters for your child?

Making Valentine Cards for Preschoolers

Making cards with kids is almost as much fun as getting valentines; some simple ideas and creativity turn it into a play-of-the-day. These three examples may inspire you and your kids. This year, a friend’s really big sister used some potatoes in an experiment for a science fair. Her little sister used the left-over potato … Continue reading Making Valentine Cards for Preschoolers