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Teaching Children to Overcome Fear in 3 Steps

Overcoming Fear
Simple strategies for addressing the root causes of fear and shaping it for better outcomes.

Overcoming FearA few weeks ago, I sat in the driver’s seat while my son contemplated his choices. He was visibly stressed, and it was all too apparent that he was being pushed out of his comfort zone. I wondered whether he would decide to stay in the car with me or if he’d walk into the Martial Arts Studio without his uniform and risk embarrassment.

This scenario may sound trivial to us as adults, but I’m sure you can remember a time when you faced a similar decision and the only thing stopping you from taking action were the fear-generating thoughts in your head.

I had the option of making light of the situation by telling my son that it wasn’t a big deal and ask him to get out and go to class, but I knew better. Behind every fear is a deeper meaning. Eventually my son chose to participate in his class, largely because I followed a three-step process to help him make his decision.

Acknowledge the Fear and its Meaning

Support your child rather than make him feel guilty about being afraid. Instead of focusing on the fact that my son didn’t want to participate, I helped him dig deeper to discover the real reason why he didn’t want to participate. After some discussion, we confirmed he was fearful of the attention he would receive for forgetting his uniform. We discovered that he associated the potential negative attention with the idea that he wasn’t good enough.

Take the Truth Test

Once you can determine the source of the fear, the next step is to ask whether the source is true. My son and I explored whether forgetting his uniform meant he wasn’t a good boy. When we determined it wasn’t true, I saw his body relax almost instantaneously.

I encouraged him explore another perspective, one that had nothing to do with whether or not he was “good enough.” Why would kids laugh at him participating without a uniform? After some thought, he came to the conclusion that the kids could be laughing simply because it was a funny situation. They wouldn’t necessarily be laughing at him. After a few moments, even he started laughing out loud. He decided that the whole experience would be a funny story to share with friends!

Prepare for the Worst-case Scenario

Preparing for the worst-case scenario takes the pressure off while giving you a sense of control. My son and I took a few minutes to prepare for the worst-case scenario by coming up with a few strategies to deal with his insecurity.

  • He could walk into the studio with confidence and a smile
  • He could make a comment that he forgot his uniform rather than wait for someone else to notice and react
  • He could gently laugh at himself
  • He could to choose to welcome a few smiles and giggles from peers

Changing perspectives and breaking down the fear reduced the overwhelming feelings associated with the fear he was experiencing. In the end, my son participated in class and was proud of himself for facing his fears head-on. Even fear can present an excellent opportunity for self-awareness and personal growth!

About the author

Sonia Singh

Sonia Singh

Sonia Singh is a Certified Personal Development Coach. She is the Founder of A Lifestyle By Design where she empowers women to create positive change in their life by first strengthening their relationship with themselves. Sonia teaches modern women how to master the tools of self-discovery, mindset, and goal-setting so they can consciously create a lifestyle by design.

  • Shannon

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • These are great actionable steps that I feel like I can begin using right away. Thank you!

  • great tips – feel like I could use them myself as well as with my kids!

  • Leanne Chesser

    These are great tips for anyone. I agree that fear is a great opportunity for self awareness and growth. It always is for me . . . whether I move forward and act in spite of the fear, or let the fear stop me.

  • Sandy VanHoey

    These look like they have some great articles for parents

  • Candy Kelley

    Great advice especially for new parents. Awesome job I will recommend it to my daughter

  • I have to think more about the ‘worst case scenario’… it’s contradictory to the concept of imagining the best case scenario, but maybe that’s too much for a child.
    Thank you,

  • Betsy Barnes

    This is a very good post, great advice, especially for new moms 🙂

  • tisme143

    Definitely great advice more so for young or new parents 🙂 thanks for share @tisonlyme143

  • Sweta

    great advice for parents

  • melisa

    These are great tips, I like your approach to get to the root of the fear. This is basically how I addressed some fears in one of my child’s scenario and she overcame them, thank goodness. However, concerning another one of my children, with the same approach, I’m afraid it was not fruitful. We had to go about it in different ways.

  • Andrea Silas

    I have older kids with fears. I wonder if there is a way to take these tips and use them for older kids, probably in a different way.

  • lisa

    I always enjoy reading your articles. They are well thought and and educational.

  • TrishFr

    This is all sound advise. I remember these times with my own son and I tried to stress to him that everyone had some of the same fears, but I wished I had read this 15 years ago.

  • Diana Scholz

    Articles like these are ones I wish I would have read in earlier motherhood. My son ‘stresses’ about pretty much EVERYTHING! I love to read advice and use it to see if it works for him and I.

  • lisa

    Very good tips. Fear is a good thing, in it’s place. Explaining that it is good at times is important.

  • Paula Morgan

    Very important tips. This where it is so vitally important to really LISTEN to your children and keep open lines of communication with them, all through their lives.

  • You know, I’ve seen so many people struggle with this subject. It’s nice to see the very same tools I’ve used put into black and white and shared. I hate when people dismiss their children out of hand. So often, there is something going on and it’s important to really listen (and help children articulate) what is going on. Remember, the goal is to raise a great adult. Helping them face these issues (and communicate them) really makes a difference in accomplishing that goal 🙂

  • Valerie Guerrero

    im so glad i found this im going to try this with my kids especially because my son has been with fear a could a days now

  • Sandra K VanHoey

    This was such a good article. Since I participate in taking care of my grandkids frequently, this has given me something to think about. Thank you for sharing

  • Katie Hale

    Great article. Kids need all the encouragement they can get with us, but also understanding.

  • I agree! Good tips. Being a good example yourself and staying positive go a long way too.

  • Taylor Speikers

    Preparation is definitely key, because ultimately anything could happen. Great tips!

  • Nichole

    Awesome Advice… 🙂 I know I had several fears as a child but at least my parents helped me through them 🙂

  • Sadie

    I always do “worst case scenario” – usually it makes the kids laugh because I am so ridiculous about it. Great tips. 🙂

  • notageek4u

    I love the truth test! We’ve always tried to instill facing fears in my nieces and nephews, and then trying to help them understand why they’re afraid of doing a certain task (talking in front of group, etc.).

  • Tatanisha Worthey

    Great tips! I do the worst case scenario a lot- I want my kids to be prepared! Just in case….

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