Have you noticed that toddlers are notorious for experiencing irrational fears?
If you are really honest you may agree that you get annoyed sometimes with their fears. Especially when you have a hard time getting your toddler to understand that their fears have no basis.
What can you do? Let me share some tips that may help.
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Don’t blow it off
It’s easy to dismiss your toddler’s fears. After all, you know there’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s just a vacuum cleaner. Right?
I know that it’s tempting to roll your eyes and tell your little one to forget it. But many experts do not recommend this approach.
They claiming it may make your toddler feel like you don’t care or that they need to suppress their fears.
It’s important to let your toddler know that communicating their fears and asking for help is a healthy thing to do.
Don’t inflate fear
Don’t get me wrong. Taking your toddler’s fears seriously and acknowledging them is important. But taking them too seriously may actually make the fear worse.
Do you remember watching tv shows or movies where people are gathered around a campfire telling scary stories at night?
To get everyone really scared, the storyteller may stop and say, “What was that noise?” in a scared tone of voice.
This has the desired effect of getting everyone convinced that there actually is something scary in the woods or nearby. This adds to the frightening effect of the story.
This is the exact thing you want to avoid with your toddler!
Identifying with his fears is fine. However, inflating the fear is a no, no.
Getting used to it
If possible, practice with your toddler in facing his fear. Instead of running from the vacuum, let your toddler stay close enough to see that it will not hurt.
Some psychologists call these practice sessions “GUTI” exercises. Getting used to it.
The point is to set up a situation where the toddler has to face their fear and you help him cope with the situation in a calm way.
Eventually, they will see that their fear has no basis.
For instance, back to favorite example of the vacuum cleaner. First, try getting your toddler close enough to the vacuum cleaner and continue talking a positive manner.
The vacuum cleaner can be turn off at first. The first few times just have your little one close by.
Then let your toddler touch it. When you turn the vacuum cleaner on continue to stay calm and speak positively
See if you can repeat the practice times regularly, such as weekly, until your toddler is calm around the vacuum cleaner.
Safety, Not Fear.
Last but not least, psychologists and other experts do not recommend using fears to promote safe behavior.
An example of this might be telling the child a negative or scary story about a child getting hit by a car to induce a fear of crossing the street.
Given the toddler’s way of thinking, this could end up as a disastrous fear of all vehicles and even a fear of riding in the car.
There you have it. With these 4 tips, you can help your toddler deal with their fear.
Let me know in the comments what do to help you little one deal with their fear.
This post is a part of the series 31 Days of Parenting Tips for Busy Moms With Young Kids. Each day throughout the series I am discussing a different topic regarding parenting young kids. I’d love for you to follow along and share this series with moms who may need some support or just to hear that they aren’t alone in their journey of raising young kids.
Find all of the posts in one place on the series homepage: 31 Days of Parenting Tips for Busy Moms With Young Kids