Gwen & Owen - Park 2015

Toddler Thursday: Toddler Fears

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Categories Parenting, Toddler Thursday

Overcoming Fears

We toddler parents know what it feels like to see fear in our little, precious kiddos! It’s that awkward age where two-way, toddler-to-adult conversation is sparse. Without the use of words and conversation; it’s hard to know what they are afraid of!

In my “bucket o’ toddler tricks”, I have a solution! Children can develop fears from visual and physical experience(s). If they get startled by a loud noise coming from a red lawnmower, they may fear red lawnmowers — or they may fear any red, moving object. If they are left in the dark or trip over the stairs, they may fear the dark or fear the stairs. Some children have a higher tolerance for fear and overcome it rather quickly; some take more time. It’s how we help them deal with the experience (visual or physical) that can limit the length of time that a fear “festers”.

We’ve instituted a method in our child-rearing process: Immediate Facing of Fears.

ACK! Well, it’s not as harsh as it sounds. All it means is that when a fearful experience occurs, we immediately repeat the experience (to a safe level of course).

Gwen & Owen - Park 2015

For example, today Gwen fell off the steps at the playground. She was on her way up to the slide; she had a goal to conquer that slide, and boy were we going to get her on it! As soon as she fell off, we put her right back on. Tears and all. We made sure she wasn’t injured, comforted her and offered her a little extra assistance. Then we let her own the completion of that goal. She didn’t have the opportunity to build up any fear of those steps!

The smile on her face while she slid down that slide was precious and she forgot all about that bloody lip!

A word of caution: make sure they are safe and make sure they understand WHY they got hurt or scared. Just communicating with her about the situation helped her to be more careful.

You might think that this is dangerous and that it instills reckless behavior in children. I can assure you, the exact opposite is true. My kids understand situations better and rarely get injured or scared. They are tough and they’ve been taught to be that way!

An article on Kidshealth.org sums it up nicely: “The key to resolving fears and anxieties is to overcome them.” — D’Arcy Lyness, PhD

Kids are resilient. They are learning every day. If we give them the opportunity and time to experience life, they’ll carry that resiliency into adulthood.

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Leslie Killinger

I am a first-time Mom to boy/girl twins -- Owen and Gwen! I worked as a SAHM full-time while working a full-time job. My hands were full! This was a great experience for the first two years. I have since returned to the corporate world and work for a major e-commerce retailer. I've been with the company for 12 years and love my job! I had a c-section at 36 weeks and 1 day. My babies were born at over 5 pounds each, but both experienced two weeks of NICU time. You just never know what is going to happen and we were definitely surprised to not be able to take them both home sooner. Our twins are beautiful -- really, they are. We love them so much. Gwen was recently featured in an Otterbox commercial. She's our superstar! Owen is more shy and has been on the move since he started to walk at only 10 months old! This boy is already in a toddler bed and can climb over anything!

42 thoughts on “Toddler Thursday: Toddler Fears”

  1. Such a good plan! Luckily for me, A seems to face his fears himself, and will go back on something immediately even if he’s just had a fall. #twinklytuesday

  2. I wholeheartedly agree! As a toddler mummy and a teacher of Foundation Stage children, I believe it is so important that children recognise, judge and take appropriate risks. I find it difficult to not be a ‘helicopter mum’ sometimes (like when Daddy wanted to take him on the big water slides at Center Parcs!) but I know he has to work things out for himself. Like you say, communication is key. Thank you for hosting #twinklytuesdays :)
    Becky recently posted 5 Things I Hate About Children’s ComicsMy Profile

  3. This is such a good lesson in raising fearless kids. I do have a question though – what about when the parent is afraid of something and that in turn could then show the child to be afraid?! This is obviously a bit different but I am really, really, really scared of spiders. Like, will be trapped in a room depending on the size of the spider holding me hostage. I don’t want to pass this on to my son but I have a hard time confronting my own fear let alone letting him see he shouldn’t be scared! #twinklytuesday
    Apparently Awkward recently posted Wicked Good Baby Led Weaning: PancakesMy Profile

  4. Nice post – fears have certainly held me back. I have a huge fear of heights and I’ve missed out on some good opportunities as a result. I shall do my best to make sure that Jack conquers his fears early on. #TwinklyTuesday

  5. Great advice! I am going to put this plan into action I think as my boy is starting to be afraid of lots of different stuff. He hates the swing and is scared of spiders. It dosn’t help that he has learnt the word ‘scared’, he says it a lot but most of the time he doesn’t mean it. Just hard trying to figure out when he does xx #TwinklyTuesday

  6. Interesting post and I agree with the get up and try again method. I always did similar things with mine when they were little and probably still do now they are older! It is often very difficult as a parent to get the balance right but so important to allow children to learn things and to take risks – hopefully they learn appropriate ones to take!! #TwinklyTuesday

  7. Thanks so much for sharing that article and your experiences! There are so many articles about children that insist parents should be extra cautious about everything and anything — slide safety, stairs, eating anything at all! I know it’s all valuable but I do think there so many admonishments and “watch-outs” that kids rarely get to try, fall, cry and try-again. I taught my boys to climb stairs using the same method as you but I have met children who literally cannot walk up and down stairs because their parents wouldn’t let them near them for fear of safety!
    #twinklytuesday
    Jennifer recently posted “It is a happy talent to know how to play” – Ralph Waldo EmersonMy Profile

  8. This is a fantastic approach and one that we try to adopt too. And as someone who suffers Anxiety I can tell you that facing fears head on is the ONLY way to overcome them! 😀

    #twinklytuesday

  9. I completely understand where you are coming from. M fell of her bike the other day and was so upset and really didn’t want to get back on her bike. We took 5 minutes to have a run around and she was all ready to get back on after she gave the bike a good telling off!!! 😉 #twinklytuesday xx
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  10. I completely agree, and it’s up to us to teach our kids this. We’re doing them a real disservice if we don’t help them to overcome fears. As you say it doesn’t make them take risks, it teaches them how to assess risks, a skill that is so important. Great post x #twinklytuesday
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  11. Fab advice and I agree that this approach is the way forward. My toddler is nervous of loud noises, It’s a tricky one to overcome, but I am hoping explaining what every noise is will help.
    Thanks for hosting #TwinklyTuesday
    Becky-LittleOandme
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  12. I couldn’t agree more with this post. It makes me quite sad when I see parents stopping their child from taking (sensible) risks. And making a big deal out of their children falling over when it’s obvious the child hasn’t really hurt themselves that much (although I can understand there could be reasons why they might do so). #twinklytuesday
    Alison recently posted Starting School for the Disorganised & a GiveawayMy Profile

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