The key to overcoming fear is not running away from it or avoiding what is scary. To overcome fear, which psychology considers irrational, we must face face to face with it and dismantle its structure. The psychologist Silvia Álava , from the Álava-Reyes Consultores Psychology Center, in this interv
The key to overcoming fear is not running away from it or avoiding what is scary. To overcome fear, which psychology considers irrational, we must face face to face with it and dismantle its structure. The psychologist Silvia Álava, from the Álava-Reyes Consultores Psychology Center, in this interview with GuiaInfantil.com, explains the two faces of fear in children, the positive and the negative.
Child fear has a positive and a negative side
Is fear born or is it made? Can children learn to be afraid?Children, generally, learn to be afraid. In fact, many times we see how the mother is afraid of something, for example the dogs: Be careful, do not approach, do not go biting !, and that child what it does is that it generates a fear of the dog. We have to be very careful with what phrases we say to our children, because it does not need to be a fear of the mother as such, but a feeling of insecurity or danger that I am transmitting and that the child, as he sees that his figure of reference is being afraid, learn to be afraid of that situation.
Is it also good to be afraid sometimes?We have to distinguish: fear is a physiological response to a stimulus or to a situation that is dangerous. In that situation, the fear response, when my life is in danger, is right, because what I'm doing is that I'm activating a lot at the physiological level: the heart starts beating faster, I start to breathe faster and hyperventilate, They tense the muscles and all this prepares me to be able to run and flee from this situation, which is really dangerous. The problem is when I am afraid, or the child is afraid, in a situation that is not potentially dangerous, for example, in the dark to ghosts, to monsters, to going to steal home ... When we talk about fear, generally, we are talking about an irrational fear, a situation that in itself does not involve any danger and then the answer is wrong.
Does fear also educate?The children have to learn that there are certain situations in which we must be very careful, like when we are going to cross the street: it crosses Mother's hand. On the street, we do not have to be afraid of people, but you do not have to talk to someone you do not know or accept a candy from someone you do not know. However, with children we do not have to use the word fear: 'Be afraid of this, be afraid to cross the street', but 'Let's be prudent', because fear does have that negative connotation of irrational fear.
Do children face fear differently than girls?There are studies that tell us that the prevalence of fears in boys and girls is different. It seems, in principle, that girls tend to have more fears, but in clinical practice or psychology we find that, in the end, they are both afraid and the way of living that fear is quite similar. Fear is irrational, fear is also expansive. If we do not expose ourselves to it and overcome it, it is more likely that it will grow more and become more limiting. Let's be girls or boys we must cut it from the beginning.
What are the keys to helping children overcome their fears?It is essential that children see their parents and reference figures very safe, because this attitude of adults will give them security. As strategies to overcome it, we can go talking to him and establishing guidelines, but what is not going to be worth at all is not exposing himself to that fear. Avoidance is the worst of the answers, because if fear is avoided, the subject is parked and strategies are never created to overcome it. Therefore, we can not allow children to avoid the situation of fear, we have to face them little by little, giving them resources, giving them small techniques, with an adult next to them, that serves as a reference, that offers them security, but never encourages avoidance.