Fixing Fears

Fixing Fears

A monster under the bed.  A ghost in the closet.  Does your preschooler have all kinds of crazy fears?  Does he insist you stay with him all night and keep his bedroom light on at all times?  If so, you may be annoyed, but you are not alone.  Such fears are practically epidemic during the preschool years.

Why?  Infants and toddlers aren’t afraid of monsters under the bed or ghosts in the closet, nor are older children.  Well, what does a preschooler have than an infant or toddler doesn’t have?  That’s right, imagination.  And what does an older child have that a preschooler doesn’t have?  That’s right, logical thinking.  It is the combination of blossoming imagination and lack of logical thinking that makes a preschooler susceptible to all kinds of crazy fears.

So what should you do?  A lot of parents make the mistake of trying to logically explain away the fears.  If you tried that, you know it doesn’t work very well.  You have to consider what caused the fear – imagination and lack of logical thinking – then use that to defeat the fear.

For instance, some parents will keep a spray bottle of water on which they have written “anti-monster spray” or “anti-ghost spray” with a magic marker.  They spray around the bed or closet and explain that any monster or ghost that tries to cross the liquid barrier will dissolve into a harmless puddle.  Other parents will take an unusual looking coin they brought back from a foreign trip, place it under the child’s pillow, and explain that it is a magic token that will cause any monster or ghost that approaches to explode into a million tiny particles.

Keep in mind that appealing to reason in a child who by his nature is unreasonable at that point in development will be futile, whereas simply going with the developmental flow will usually be far more effective.