Mom, I’m scared!
I was standing near the escalator and suddenly noticed a young mother who tried to force her daughter to stand on a moving stage. The child, who looked about four years, lagged behind, clinging to the railing and cried: “no, No, mom, I’m scared!” The mother, whose hands were full of parcels, continued to pull the child. “Don’t be such a baby, and she said to her – I’m embarrassed for you. There is nothing terrible”.
At this point, tall silver-haired man, who was waiting to get on the escalator, leaned over to the little girl and said, “You know what it is? This is the ladder for young rabbits. At night when the store is closed, they jump on the stairs. It’s their favorite game. But during the day the rabbits are scared of people and hide, allowing boys and girls to go on their stairs for the night.” The girl looked at him. Then with a serious expression trustingly took his hand and together they went up the escalator.
“How wonderful”, I thought to myself. Must this man has children and grandchildren, since he knows so well to distract the child. But something about this situation forced me to return again and again to her. Everything was so cute and yet something was wrong. I realized this later on tonight.
The trouble was that although the girl and persuaded to climb the escalator, no one told her that it is normal that she is afraid. And it is much more important than just distract her. The fears of young children often have so little in common with reality that adults almost always say “no big deal”. Remember, I talked all the time so, when my daughter was little. What a pity that I wasn’t as wise as you look yourself now!
What I’ve learned over the years is the fact that irrational fears are often much stronger than the fears are real, and they predominate in early childhood. The feelings of inadequacy and unattractiveness in adults are related to the fact that when in childhood they admitted that they are afraid in a particular situation, they were told that they are naive, stupid and foolish.
What I was most touched in the case of a little girl in the escalator, is the fact that I didn’t have time to talk to her. I would tell her: “It’s nothing that you fear. All small children are afraid of something”. Then, maybe, and added: “And if you’re afraid, maybe you will help if I tell you a funny story. or will take you in my arms”.
Young children is vital to know that they are normal and worthy of love. Awful feelings that other people don’t understand. A bad thing to be afraid of thunderstorms or the dark, and even worse when the people you love, lose patience or get angry at you for it.
Children’s fears are similar to the feeling of fatigue when the kid just can’t keep the events under control. These feelings overwhelm him entirely. If you can manage them, we would have had to deal with an adult, not a child. When it seems that a small child all the time afraid of something, we need to analyse where all the fears and what they mean.
“When I was a little girl, remembered my friend, I was afraid of a lion, which came at night in my room. My father tried to cheer me up, saying that this is impossible and that all lions live in the zoo. It did not help, because I knew that he was right; when he was around, all the lions were actually in the zoo. But just when I was alone in the dark, one lion left the zoo and went to maul me. It seemed so clear and logical that I could not understand why my father didn’t understand me.”
Adults should remember that young children see the world different. For example, when my daughter was four, she was terrified of the dark. Nightlight in her room and the light in the hallway didn’t seem to help. And despite the fact that I read all the books on child psychology, I behaved like any other tired, exhausted and downtrodden mother. “In the darkness there is nothing wrong”, I said. One night the daughter looked at me with serious eyes and said, “I’m not afraid of your darkness, I am afraid of my darkness”. We can’t shy away from rich and powerful experience that gives us imagination, perceiving them as irrelevant or unrealistic. To do so is cut off from his child the most profound experiences.
Whatever was afraid of the child on the escalator – his fear was very real. To tell him that he is stupid, doesn’t mean get rid of the fear. And if you’re going to insinuate that he is bad, just so interferes with the mother, it can cause him to have a feeling that something is not right, that he doesn’t deserve love.
Parents often do not want to acknowledge children’s fears because they are afraid that by doing so they will fix them and even will contribute to the new birth. This concern is understandable, but you cannot admit it justifiable. Assuming that the fear exists, and to show compassion, then it will be the best way to help him disappear. In all my years of working with parents and children I don’t remember a single case where compassion and understanding would strengthen children’s fears.
One mother was very angry at me when I told her the crying child: “I know how miserable you feel because of what mom is going to leave you here in kindergarten.” As the mother explained: “I try so hard to convince my daughter that there is nothing terrible, and you, in your own words brings to nothing all my hard work!” Her anger, however, turned into confusion when the girl buried in my lap, sucking on a finger and slightly whimpering, but no longer sobbing.
In such situation one father who tried to push his son into the sea. The boy cried, his eyes were scared, but father continued to ask: “What’s wrong? Why are you acting like a little? You think I’d let you drown? In the water so cool!” When I unceremoniously intervened to say: “Boy, those waves are really scary, I know many boys and girls who are afraid of the sea”, the father, probably barely restrained the urge to hit me. The boy ran off to play in the sand, and his father said, “This is too much for your wonderful psychology. You have basically told him that he rightly afraid. Now he will never come in the water”.
I never said the boy, right or wrong he is afraid; all I did was recognize the reality of his fear. The boy’s mother apparently understood me. After a few minutes she played with my son, running away from the “ugly little waves that bite us”. Boy having a wonderful time, trying to overcome his fear, looking into the water and coming back with shouts and laughter on the beach.
When you tell your child that you understand his fear that many children feel the same way, you release the energy to overcome fear. A child who feels: “I’m good”, has sufficient energy to cope with fears. The bravest kid in the doctor’s office is the one who said, “You may be scared, and then you should cry. I’ll hold your hand, and all will be over soon”. With such moral support is hardly something which the child could not do.