Some anxiety is part of a preschooler’s normal growth process. It is part of their emotional and behavioural development. A bit of anxiety is healthy. For example, they may be anxious about riding a bike because they are afraid of falling or hurting themselves. In this case, their anxiety can protect them from being hurt.
Most children face a litany of fears. Fear of separation, monsters under the bed, fear of not being liked by other kids or fear of fictional situations they saw on TV. A majority of children work through most of their major anxieties on their own before entering preschool, but some are still shy. Some even have meltdowns on the first day of school.
Here are some things you can do as a parent to help your child overcome anxiety.
Acknowledge whatever fear it is your child has. For example, if your child is afraid of being separated from you in a mall or a shop, let him or her know that you are also scared and that is why you are making sure he or she is always within your sight. Or if your child is afraid of traffic, say that’s why you are being so careful to look both ways when crossing the street.
Let Your Child Talk
Allowing your child to talk about his or her fears while you listen attentively can work wonders. Sometimes, you will find out the true root of their fear, such as being afraid to go to a neighbour’s house actually being because of their big, loud dog.
Let Your Child Decide
As parents, it’s natural to want your children to “grow up” and display adult-like maturity as soon as possible. This simply doesn’t work. Your child doesn’t need to be pushed or told that their fears are invalid. Allow your child to work through fear at his or her own pace. If your son doesn’t want to confront the bully who lives next door or your daughter doesn’t want to pet a dog that is twice her size, don’t make them do it. Let your child decide when it’s “time.”
Be Patient and Loving
Your child needs your attention, love and patience. They quell anxiety more effectively than anything else you can do.