Fear, Part Two

*This is a continuation from "Fear, Part One." Please read the original entry for additional information*

One further strategy is to ask him “What proof do you have that there is danger in the dark?” If he cannot come up with an answer, tell him he is right: there is no proof because there is no danger.  Urge him to repeat this truth as often as he feels the fear.  That technique combines being aware of the fear with the action of replacing the negative or unwanted thought with a positive thought.

When should you as a parent have increased concern about your fearful son?  The answer is:  “When fear is limiting your son’s life in any significant way.”  If your son’s fears cause him to be impaired-- unable to participate in the normal functions of life - then you need to take action.  If fear makes it difficult for him to concentrate, or to eat or sleep, or to function in society, then he needs extra help and encouragement.

Your pediatrician can help you to determine whether the fear is developmentally appropriate.  If it is not or if it is in excess of what is expected then it is time to consider having you and your child speak to a psychiatrist or a therapist.  He or she will be able to determine whether the fears can best be addressed through talking or some other form of therapy, or whether the child might benefit from medication to help him through a difficult time.

If your son has one hundred things he is afraid of, ninety will never happen, nine will happen but are completely beyond his control and one thing might be prevented if he knew about it ahead of time.  The state of fearfulness does not help him to predict the future.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt was right when he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. But, for most people, and especially for children, fear itself is a very powerful primary emotion that can sometimes be overwhelming.