Fear is a really big emotion. (In some ways, I’m afraid to attempt to write about it.) But the reality is that fear needs conversations. Fear needs to be acknowledged and discussed. The more we push it down or away, the more control that same fear has over our feelings and actions and words.
Kids and adults alike have stress responses to fear that often look like something else, whether that something is anger or frustration or procrastination. (If your child has an outburst about something, it might be a good sign to dig a little deeper. Additionally, procrastination can be tied to a fear of failure.)
We navigated some basic fears here recently as Reese prepared for a first dentist appointment that involved a cavity and filling. Naming the thing she was afraid of, talking calmly and honestly about the procedure, and openly answering questions set her up for a positive experience. Was she still scared? Yes. But at a manageable and reasonable level.
Helping the kids in your life deal with big feelings such as fear provides them with skills that carry into adulthood. When we simply dismiss fear by telling a child they shouldn’t be afraid, or that they need to “toughen up” or “grow up,” we begin to create a path of repressing a very real and very controlling emotion. Many, many things in this world are immeasurably more frightening than having a cavity filled, and rightfully so. But creating smaller moments like this one can serve as reminders of success when bigger fears need facing.
Find those moments to talk honestly about fear. You might just discover opportunities to embrace and face some of your own.