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Helping kids be brave

If you child regularly experiences anxiety and fearfulness, she is not alone. Remember when you were young and you were too scared to go upstairs after dark, all alone? Anxiety is a normal emotion we all experience and it is an important one too because it shows how we engage with the world. For children of a preschool age, parents can help them overcome their fears so they have less problems later in life.

Before starting on the helpful parenting practices for anxious kids, let’s look at some of the things you should not do to help your kids:

* Fixing the problem. Don’t jump in to fix the problem when one arises. You will never give your preschool child the opportunity to build her capabilities.

* Don’t avoid the fears. When we let our kids escape fearful situations, we allow them to validate their fears.

* ‘Get over it’ attitude. Don’t get impatient with your child and tell her to ‘get over it’.

Here are some things you can do to help you anxious child become brave:

1. Put on your coaching hate and teach your child skills in self-confidence. Help your preschool child by skilling her. For example, if your child is afraid of going up in the dark, ask her to talk to you while she goes up, or sing aloud so she does not feel alone.

2. Build a scaffold to independence. Break your child’s fears into smaller stages. If for example, she is afraid of going to a party alone, tell her to only go for an hour and you will pick her up. Knowing she does not have to stay for three hours will make her feel better instantly. She will feel more in control. Kids are very much like adults – when they have no control, they become anxious.

3. Use empathy. There is a great big difference between sympathy and empathy. When you use empathy, you are telling your preschool child that you understand how she feels. Sympathy on the other hand, is feeling sorry for your child and letting her off the hook when you pay too much attention to the fear. Your child needs a parent who says, ‘I know how you feel but I know you can do it’.

Happy Parenting!