Survival is the most basic instinct. Fear is the most basic emotion that triggers this
survival instinct. Expression of fear, either in action or in words, is a part of normal
development. Fears become abnormal only when they interfere with or severely inhibit the
childs day-to-day functioning.
- Fear of strangers may appear at 5-8 months. Gently
remind strangers to keep at a distance until the child becomes used to their presence.
- Fear of the bathtub or bathing may arise at 1-2 years of age and is occasionally
derived from a negative experience such as soap in the eyes or slipping in the water.
Dont insist on the bathtub, but try an alternative a dishpan /sponge bath.
- Fear of separation appears around 2 years of age when a sensitive, dependent
child is suddenly separated from his major caretaker. The fear generally worsens at
bedtime. Allow the child to develop independence, in carefully controlled circumstances,
at an early age. Accustom the child to a babysitter gradually, a half-hour warm-up
period before you leave is helpful. If the child is inconsolable when you are
leaving, give him an object that belongs to you (a scented handkerchief) to keep till you
return to assure him that you have not permanently left and will return soon.
- Imaginary worries arise at 3-5 years of age. Dogs, darkness, fire and death all
figure prominently. Doctors feature quite high on the list. Mothers use the fear of doctor
to enforce feeding or discipline the child. Such patterns of fear are seen, commonly, in
children who are tense from battles over toilet training or feeding. Frightening stories,
warnings or television shows may also stimulate these fears.
Understand and accept the childs aversions. Never force the child to face the fears
abruptly. Encourage him to play games with his fears. Let the child take an active role in
dealing with the fears (like spraying his room with water that he believes is
monster spray to prevent monsters). This often leads to successful eradication
- Fear of injury occurs at or beyond 3 years of age and is often triggered by
seeing crippled or deformed people. The child is quick to perceive that something is wrong
and puts himself in the injured persons place.
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