Dealing with Fear

The Principle: Fear contradicts neural pathways by releasing chemicals that inhibit learning. When considering cognitive development, it is vital that we remember young children cannot differentiate between fact and fantasy.

In our last article, we talked about preventing fear in young children. The article referred to new experiences and how to prepare a child by letting him know in advance what to expect. We continue …

The world has changed. Children no longer feel safe. And as we have discussed in Educational Foundations, children who do not feel safe have a difficult time learning. Fear contradicts neural pathways by releasing chemicals that inhibit learning (see Maslow’s Hierarchy of Learning).

However, there are some childhood fears that we can control. One is media. For example, every October children are inundated with opportunities to take in fear. Halloween horror on television, scary sitcoms, even well-meaning costumed employees in the marketplace will present challenges for our little ones.

Therefore we must remember that when considering cognitive development, young children cannot differentiate between fact and fantasy. They are not yet able to distinguish between what is real and what is pretend.

We give life to many inanimate objects in a child’s day. Puppets talk, cartoon characters speak, interactive video people respond. We declare that the Tooth Fairy, Santa, and the Easter Bunny are real, then we try to explain to a young child that the lady at the cash register who is dressed as a witch is really pretend? You can see how confusing an issue this becomes for young children.

We believe that the best course of action is to anticipate and conquer fear at every opportunity. Be aware of what your child is exposed to in the media and in public. Be watchful, because fear has a way of sneaking in and taking dominion if it is not dealt with. Fear about one thing often seeps over into other areas and before you know it, fear has become a stronghold in the child’s life.

To help your child develop a militant mindset against fear, teach him recognize it – take dominion over it – and conquer it.

– End –