Coping and supportBy Mayo Clinic staff
Childhood fears, such as fear of the dark, of monsters or of being left alone, are common, and most children outgrow them. But if your child has a persistent, excessive fear that's limiting his or her ability to function in daily life, talk to your doctor.
To help your child cope with fears:
- Talk openly about fears. Don't trivialize the problem or belittle your child for being afraid. Instead, let your child know that you're there to listen, and to help.
- Don't reinforce phobias. Instead, take advantage of opportunities to help children overcome their fears. If your child is afraid of the neighbor's friendly dog, for example, don't go out of your way to avoid the animal. Instead, help your child cope when confronted with the dog. For example, you might offer to be your child's home base, waiting and offering support while your child steps a little closer to the dog and then returns to you for safety. Over time, encourage your child to keep closing the distance.
- Pursue positive approaches. Help your child learn to breathe deeply and repeat positive statements such as "I can do this" when facing something scary. Your child also may benefit from rating the fear on a scale of 1 to 10. Recognizing that the fear rates only a 5 on the scale, for example, may help your child see the feeling as being less overwhelming.
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