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How to Help Your Child Manage Fear

Tornadoes, hurricanes, school shootings, super storms have boosted all our jitters lately, but don’t forget our children. I’ve received dozens of parent emails and media calls these past few days asking for advice on how to help calm kids.

While we all dream that our children will have carefree days, but the truth is our world is unpredictable. Scary things do happen. We can’t protect our kids from uncertain events. And we can’t try to “talk them out of their worry.” The fear is real to the child. What does help are giving “tools” to empower the child so he can manage his fears and worries.

Studies show that children’s worries can be reduced if they learn habits that help them reduce anxieties – such as sharing worries, normalizing expectations, practice relaxation, and others  — that he can use the rest of his life. It’s up to us to teach our kids coping strategies so they can use them to help them deal with whatever troubling event they encounter.

Best yet, if we help our kids practice those strategies enough so they become habits our kids will be able to use them the rest of their lives.

What follows are proven ways you can parent for change  — like modeling courage, monitoring media input, and teaching step by step acclimation — that will boost kids’ resilience, help them cope with everyday fears in healthier ways and prevent anxiety from shortchanging their lives. Each child is different as each anxiety-producing experience. It’s up to us as parents, counselors and educators to help our kids find the technique that works best for them.

How to  Help Kids Manage Fear

1. Teach kids to monitor scary media consumption

Images from movies, video games, music videos, Internet websites, and even television news stories can trigger fears or make them even worse. So monitor your child’s media exposure and be especially particular about what your child watches closer to bedtime.

Best yet, teach your child to use the remote to turn off what he knows if affecting him. “This is scary. I don’t need to watch it” is a great line for kids to learn to say.

Also help your kid learn what to watch that is more relaxing and fear-reducing: comedies! Have a couple of DVDs that are “giggle-producers” ready for kids to pop in when anxieties increase. Doing so will help our kids learn how to monitor their own media diets.

2. Share worries as a family

Encourage your child to talk about his fears. Putting a worry into words makes the more manageable. Your goal is to “catch” her worries early before they blow out of proportion and become full-fledge fears so be sure she knows you will listen.  You can then not only reassure your child but also clarify any misconceptions and answer questions…

Read More: Michele Borba,

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