As they grow older, children go through different levels of consciousness and cautiousness with their surroundings. This is why parents may notice a difference in the way they interact with their environment later on in comparison to how they did at first.
While they’re younger, toddlers are initially oblivious to their environment’s possible dangers and consequences. Born curious by nature, they are naturally interested in the things around them and take a proactive position in learning about these things. This is why toddlers are very interactive with their surroundings. However, as they grow older, their awareness of the things around them grows. Children learn to acknowledge the things that hurt them and can now be wary about dangerous situations.
Why Are Children Often Agitated?
One of the common reasons why children become scared is when they’re presented with or experiencing something new. While uncertainty and change are a normal part of life, some children may have trouble coping and handling these experiences. Fear is a typical response to these situations since they make children feel uncertain, anxious, and not in control. While this may seem an unfavorable and unpleasant emotion, fear is normal. However, if unmanaged, this can become problematic to the children and the people around them. They may choose to avoid the unfamiliar and reject opportunities to try out new things, thus preventing growth and self-improvement. This is why it’s best to help children healthily manage their fears.
What Can Parents Do to Help?
Children may prefer a more stable and predictable environment to feel safe. And as parents only want what’s best for their children, choosing to take this path can be tempting. However, life is rarely constant. In fact, the only constant thing in life is change. Giving children comfort and ease rather than teaching them how to manage change can only make their life troublesome. Here are some ways parents can offer support and help children cope with change.
Even though parents want anything but to make their children less afraid, reassurance is still crucial. Remember, fear is a normal response to situations. It’s not wrong, nor is it a sign of weakness to feel so. Before teaching them to confront their fears, let them acknowledge their emotions first. Teach them to be kind to themselves before teaching them to be tough. Looking at things from an adult’s perspective can make these fears seem trivial. But parents should resist the urge to undermine these and instead understand where their children are coming from.
On top of reassurance, parents should also be there for their children. Connective touch is essential. Let children know that they aren’t alone in approaching this scary situation. In one of Sandra Birchfield’s books about primary and middle school children, she tackles the importance of removing fear from the experience of strange things or events. In her book, she emphasizes that as children go through this journey, it’s equally essential that the people around them – especially the parents – still provide a safe and secure environment.
And in what way to do this than be readily there for them? Children watch their parents for reaction. It’s one of their primary motivators for changes in their behavior. Being present doesn’t only mean parents should observe them. This also involves communicating with them about fears and giving them advice. Parents can even share their own experiences when they were young – anything that can leave an impression on children that they’re not alone.
Parents shouldn’t only be the people showing support throughout the child’s journey. Social persuasion includes peer-driven encouragement. The presence of their friends can also aid in changing a child’s mindset and make them approach new experiences courageously. When they know that other people their age can do it without problems, this will make them realize that there’s nothing to fear and empower them to do the same thing.
Regulate Their Media Exposure
The media can have a massive impact on how children can view the world. While they are typically fictional scenarios, children don’t have enough mental capacity to realize how they aren’t true, nor can they happen in real life. The constant exposure to media, especially the horrifying scenarios, highlights unpleasant events in an environment. Hence, it can influence how children react to and perceive their actual environment. Regulating their media or internet usage doesn’t mean children shouldn’t be exposed to these types of media at all. Parents only need to wait for the right time once they can understand the world a little better.
Reach Out for Help
Sometimes, this simple fear can develop into something more serious such as anxiety disorders. In such events, it’s vital that parents are observant of the signs and not let their children struggle. When worst comes to worst, parents shouldn’t hesitate to ensure that their children receive the best help. A considerable part of children’s growth comes from their interaction and experiences with the world. Therefore, they must be welcoming of the world and open to change because only then will they grow as individuals.