THE EMOTION: FEAR
Children who live in a two parent home expect to wake up every morning with two parents. Children become accustomed to this routine. When a routine is changed by the loss, divorce, or separation of a parent, fear often arises. Children fear that since they have, in their mind, "lost" one parent they could easily lose the other as well.
Children who feel fear can display a wide variety of signs, some of the more common include:
- A child who constantly seeks reassurance that everything will be okay.
- A child who does not like to be separated from a parent, and becomes insecure when separated.
- A child who clams up and quits talking and does not want to discuss his fears.
IDEAS TO WORK WITH
Helping a child overcome his fears will greatly benefit the child. A child can overcome his fears using one of two basic methods: "expression" or "action."
Action involves trying to conquer the fear by confronting it. A child may feel fear when separated from a parent. To conquer the fear a child might begin by being away from the parent for thirty minutes, then increasing that time to an hour. The child would increase the time apart in small increments until he felt little fear in being separated.
Expression, is verbally working through the fear. A child would discuss with a parent or other trusted adult what it is he fears. The child would search for the source of that fear. The parent then uses questions to help the child put the fear into perspective.
Which method you use depends on your child. A verbal child would benefit best from the expression method whereas a child who is hands-on would benefit best from the action method.
Some fears may be too deep-rooted for the parent to offer the help that is needed. If you cannot reach your child's fear, seek help with a trained professional.