Helping your toddler overcome fears
- Don’t belittle her fears. By telling her that what she fears is silly, she’s likely to internalise her anxiety and stop talking to you about how she feels, and may even begin to feel anxious about feeling anxious.
- Talk to her about her fears. Help her to articulate how she’s feeling by asking her questions about her emotions. As toddlers have a limited vocabulary, you may have to help her find the words.
- Tell her the truth about what she fears – there’s no point in lying to her because she needs to be able to rely on you when she’s frightened. If she’s frightened about going to swimming lessons, don’t tell her she doesn’t have to go, if you intend on taking her.
- Don’t give her any nasty surprises. It doesn’t help her to overcome her fears if you just avoid giving her bad news – if she’s fearful of the dentist, give her warning that she has an appointment so you can talk through her fear and prepare her for the visit.
- A baptism of fire doesn’t work. If you force your toddler to confront her fears, she may become more fearful instead of less. A slow and gentle approach is usually much more successful.
- Praise her efforts to overcome her fears – even if they’re very small steps in the right direction.
- Try not to communicate any of your own irrational fears to your child – you don’t need to give her more things to be anxious about.
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