How can I help my child deal with his fears?
Q: My child is terrified of almost everything! How can I curb this and or deal with this. Some examples are loud noises, fireworks, any animal, heights, and so on. Please help!
A: Dear charding13:
Fears are common in childhood, especially among youngsters around the age of four. Fears tend to wax and wane, and the object of the fear may change from one thing to another. For some children, there is a clear issue of temperament: the child has always been slow to adapt to new experiences, reluctant to separate, somewhat shy, and a worrier. For other children, there may be a stressful circumstance: a new baby at home, a loss, or a traumatic event.
Parents should try to ride out their youngster's fears with friendly reassurance and optimism. Avoiding triggers that can be reasonably circumvented, such as fireworks, is helpful--especially if the child is in the pre-school age-group. If your son is older than 5, if the fears seem to get in the way of his ordinary enjoyment of daily life, and if they appear to be gaining in intensity rather than ebbing, you may wish to consult your pediatrician.
Elizabeth Berger MD
Child Psychiatrist and author of "Raising Kids with Character"
Answered by Dr. Elizabeth Berger