Toddler fears can make life miserable for all concerned. If they get out of hand, they can even be crippling to a child’s growth and development.
We’ve put together 11 Top Tips to help your toddler deal with fears…
- Acknowledge that the fears are real. They may be irrational, but they are – like adult fears – real. Ignoring fear isn’t likely to help. In fact, pretending a fear doesn’t exist often intensifies it and/or makes it the basis of a lot of other fear (a fear of birds may grow into a fear of all animals; a fear of spiders may beget a fear of all insects).
- …but don’t force your toddler to confront them head-on, either. A sink-or-swim approach is rarely effective when it comes to fears. Forcing a toddler who is afraid of dogs to pet the neighbour’s collie; dunking a toddler afraid of water in the swimming pool; or insisting that a toddler afraid of monsters checks under the bed for that nocturnal nemesis could turn a fear into a phobia. Admonishing ‘be brave’ or ‘don’t act like a baby’ is also bad medicine. Instead, follow a fear-reduction programme that combines sensitive support and understanding with gradual exposure.