Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Parent to Parent: Fears
From monsters in the closet to being afraid of the dark, all kids have fears. What can parents do to help them through the rough spots? Seven's Lynn Martinez tells us more in tonight's Parent to Parent.
WSVN -- Two-year-old McKenzie sure doesn't like to say goodbye to her mom.
At Miami Shores Presbyterian Preschool, McKenzie goes into a full-blown panic at morning drop-off.
Jeannie Stefanick: "It's OK, McKenzie, it's OK. Mommy will be back soon."
You might call it a textbook case of separation anxiety, and it's probably the most common fear for toddlers. Just ask any parent.
Cynthia Peroe: "It makes you feel very guilty because you think, Oh, I shouldn't be leaving my child here. I'm a bad mother, I'm leaving my child here."
Jeannie Stefanick has worked here at the pre-school for 22 years and sees separation anxiety everyday.
Jeannie Stefanick: "You just need to grab a hold of those kids and hug them, you know? And reassure them that mommy's coming back, daddy's coming back."
When kids don't want you to leave, never sneak away. Even if they're crying, always say goodbye and reassure them you'll be back for them soon.
Jeannie Stefanick: "You feel better? Good, I am so happy you feel better."
Kira Charles is getting better with morning drop off, but now she's afraid of bugs.
Tabitha Charles: "Right now, she's starting to develop little fears of spiders or things like that and I'm trying to give her the confidence of that spiders are OK."
For this one, parents could read them books about bugs and spiders. The more kids know, the less afraid they may be.
Another common fear here at pre-school: fear of using the bathroom. Part of the problem, kids are just starting to learn and may not be confident about their bathroom skills. A good solution is to have a plan B.
Jeannie Stefanick: "It's something that some kids need pull-ups just to get through the day."
Whether it's fear of dogs, monsters under the bed or the dark, Dr. Valerie says parents can find positive ways to help.
Dr. Valerie Goode: "For example, if they're afraid of ghosts at night when they go to sleep, you know you may want to turn on the light. Let them have the light on, let them do something that they can be in charge of."
And what do you do if your child is afraid of strange adults?
Valerie Goode: "All these big people walk into the room you know, and if they're very shy, maybe they can't think of something to say, and it's just overwhelming."
For this one, Dr. Val says make the introduction, but don't push the child to talk if they don't want to, and remember, childhood fears are part of life. As kids grow, most common fears fade away.
Jeannie: "Don't get frustrated, be patient. This too shall pass."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Dr. Valerie Goode