I recently went for a parenting talk. One of the things the speaker touched on briefly was how to help a child overcome his/her fear. He recommended two basic steps.
- Try to identify with the child’s fear (do not belittle the fear no matter how silly you think it is). E.g. if he’s afraid of entering a dark tunnel, say, “Yes, mommy used to be afraid of the dark.” or “Sometimes mommy’s afraid of dark places too.”
- Support or face the fear alongside the child. Hold his hand and say, “Come let’s go in the tunnel together.”
(Something like that lah. At least that was the gist of what I thought he said.)
Anyway, it struck me just the day before yesterday that it’s applicable to me too. When I’m afraid or uncertain of myself, the first thing I would want is for someone to identify with me. Heck, I wouldn’t want to know that I’m a loony or that I’m the only person on this planet to not be able to handle it. I want my fear or uncertainty validated. I want to know that it’s okay, that it’s normal. Then of course I would love to feel supported as I work through my fears.
It seems like such common sense now that I look at it from my own life. How could I have overlooked it? Yes, I’ve tried not belittling his fears and supporting him in the past but I’ve not really tried identifying with him. In fact I’ve used “silly boy” on hubby-jr before when I didn’t understand his fears over what seemed to me like the silliest things to be afraid of. Cactus? Air-con?
Well yesterday morning I tried it out – the identifying thingy. When he was afraid of watching bugs in an online storybook, I told him, “Mommy’s afraid of some bugs like bees too but this is just a story and it’s not real. Come let’s watch the storybook together.” Yes! It worked. I was amazed. We watched it once together and after that I could leave him on his own to watch it over and over again. Amazing.