Fear is part of the human nature and is important for our emotional development, especially for children. But no one should fear beyond normal. THis is considered a pathological fear, that means it needs to be treated. We gathered tips to identify if pathological fear is part of your child’s life and – if so – what you can do to help.
How to identify what is normal and what is not?
Fear is directly linked to anxiety, being almost synonymous with it within psychology. Fear is what allows us to decide whether we should confront or escape a threat – including whether it is real. However, this “hazard check” mechanism may become unregulated. When this happens, the child becomes impaired and may develop anxiety disorders and phobias. These are irrational fears of specific things and places that have no real justification.
First of all, we must understand that there are healthy fears. They are typical things of childhood and should not worry parents. Examples would be: fear of strange people, the dark, the bad wolf, etc. Another interesting thing is to note that there are temporary fears, which arise and disappear without much influence on the child’s life. All these fears are manageable: the presence of the mother or the father already usually makes the child feel safe.
When fear becomes unhealthy
If the child’s fears are directly hindering her routine or the activities she enjoys, it deserves more parental attention. For example, if the child gets very distressed just thinking about facing the situation that brings fear and so fails to go to a soccer lesson. Another important sign is whether the child feels paralyzed just by thinking or remembering something. It is important for parents to learn to distinguish this type of fear that has no justification. A child who took a dog bite may feel scared of dogs, it is normal. However, if she is afraid of a dog and avoids a path often on behalf of the animal (even in the presence of the parents), this may already be a pathological fear.
Therefore the first step is observation: stay alert to these indicators of fear of the little one and if you notice something different, do not hesitate to seek help from a child psychologist. You can also ask the school to appoint a suitable professional to deal with the situation.
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