How to accompany the fears of our children?

Comment accompagner les peurs de nos enfants ?

We are in October, and who says October says Halloween! At Pipouette, we thought there was no better opportunity to talk about one of the key emotions of children: fear.

As parents, it often makes us very uncomfortable, and it provokes in us an almost epidermal reaction of protection; we want to blur it at all costs, because we systematically assimilate it to suffering. Especially since it has a very vast scale; from simple fear to disabling anxiety, including phobias and anxiety, the field of action of fear is very vast.

What if today, we tried to dissect our children's fears and find some ways to approach them more calmly?

“Dad, Mom, I'm scared”. It's 9 p.m. and your child is coming to meet you in the living room. He can't fall asleep; he is afraid. But afraid of what? Until a certain age, it is difficult for the child to describe, to put into words, to find the cause.

The first step to help him identify it can be to ask him what physical sensations he feels. Not only does this ensure that fear is indeed the emotion that dominates him at the time, but he also learns to recognize the manifestations in his body that describe fear. The key in managing emotions is that the person who feels them gradually becomes autonomous in their detection and, as a result, their management. It is a long and patient accompaniment, but which will serve him all his life!

Chances are that when the physical and emotional symptoms are clearly stated, the intensity of the emotion drops. Sometimes also, the child who expresses a fear, even if he does not manage to find a reason for it, expresses above all a need for protection, attention, a way of connecting with the adult. This is often obvious at bedtime, when the separation is approaching and the child dreads this moment alone in bed.

Whatever happens, the golden rule is never to deny a childhood fear, even if it seems disproportionate to us. Accompanying your little one in the expression of his emotion will be of great help to him throughout his development.

However, it is very destabilizing as a parent not to be able to clearly identify the fear of our child. So to see more clearly, we offer you a small inventory of fears by age. Keep in mind, however, that the intensity of the fear felt also depends on the temperament of each child, which can be more or less fearful.

Before the age of one year : the toddler is particularly sensitive to sudden or surprising noises. Around the age of 8-9 months, we see the emergence of separation anxiety, which corresponds to the stage of development where the baby becomes aware that there are people who are foreign to his referent adults. He begins to be afraid of strangers, of abandonment, of separation, until he understands that there is no danger in discovering this “elsewhere”. A great technique during this age group where the child has not yet acquired language is to use Pipouette to express your own emotions; what could be more reassuring for a toddler than to feel that he is not alone in his emotions, and that adults can also share them!

From 18 months, and which can last a large part of childhood , the fear of the dark makes its appearance. While he slept in absolute darkness, your child begins to express real discomfort when he finds himself in an atmosphere that is too dark. Establishing a routine at bedtime allows your child to feel reassured and to fall asleep peacefully. You can imagine your own routine or initiate it with the Pipouette bedtime pack. A small night light or a small lamp like our nomadic lamp can also easily soothe it.

From 2 to 4 years old , this is the age of more identified, transient fears, such as the wolf, clowns, witches, Santa Claus, imaginary characters, monsters... It is also in this age group that may manifest the first nightmares and night terrors. In these phases, do not hesitate to make him express his fears with all the imagination there is around and lead him to concretize them through drawings, songs, stories.

It's the perfect time to use Pipouette to accompany him in his expressiveness of these particular emotions. For example, get her to talk if you feel your child is blocking herself from expressing herself.

From 5 to 12 years old , fears become even more concrete, relate to real elements, often linked to current events or to things they hear from adults (fear of kidnapping, natural disasters, attacks …). Of course, these fears seem much more frightening to us as well, and the trick is to know how to respond to them without transmitting our own anxieties (easier said than done!). If these subjects upset you too much, trust Pipouette again! Making her talk will allow you to take a step back, to put some distance with your own emotions, and certainly to find more suitable words. Similarly, listening to your child is a good way to know “where he is” with his feelings, and to specify the intensity of his fear. The challenge will then be to reassure him with factual elements, very low probabilities of incidence, etc. And why not test relaxation methods that can greatly help some children. Start by listening to the one we offer at Pipouette !

From 6 to 7 years old , fears can also be fixed on social elements: not integrating into groups, not having friends and girlfriends, not being like the others... It's time to boost your self-confidence of your child by insisting above all on his strengths, his qualities, his resources; You can never trust a child too much!

Fear can moreover at these ages come close to feelings of shame or shyness; to accompany your little one in this subtle distinction, Pipouette and her dedicated face will be of great help to you .

Facing the fears of children is always a test for parents. But supporting them in learning how to manage them is a gift we give them for life!