Fears of school-age children
Your child may seem
anxious about everyday occurrences. School-age children usually are still
dealing with a number of fears that first developed during their early
childhood, such as fear of ghosts, of the dark, or even of dying. Every child's
fears are different. Parents may not even recognize that some behaviors are
based on fears (for example, when a child refuses to eat a food that is
touching another food on the plate).
Children this age try to deal
with, minimize, or possibly eliminate these fears. They battle fears by playing
good-guy, bad-guy superheroes, by watching scary movies, and by acting tough
and fearless. They may become fascinated by what they are afraid of and try to
overcome their fear by becoming experts on the subject. For this reason, some
children respond positively to detailed information about subjects that
Other children may seek greater control over
situations in response to fear. They may enjoy fantasy shows and books where
the characters are extremely brave, smart, and clever or who have unusual
powers. For example, they may be attracted to shows and books that feature boy
and girl superheroes.
Usually children need more than assurance
from their parents to overcome a fear (for example, that ghosts do not exist).
Over time, most children accept the truth and let go of their fears.
Children's reaction to violence
Most children in the
United States and Canada are exposed to violence on television, in movies, and
in other media. Some children even experience violence directly.
Here are some guidelines to help children deal with exposure to violence
or violent issues:
- Give children a way to express themselves. Make
time so that conversations can be unhurried and relaxed. Do not begin a
conversation when your child is upset or highly emotional about an issue.
Discussions can take place while walking home from school, at the dinner table,
or at bedtime. Let them know that you are open to talking to them by being
interested in what happens in their lives.
- Build your conversation
around their questions and what they know about an issue or event, not around
what you know. Children do not understand violence in the same way that adults
- Reassure your children that they are safe. Children often think
the same scary thing will happen in their town or school or to
- Give your children an opportunity to learn from what
scares them. Bring up an example of how they or someone else solved a conflict
without using violence.
- Support children's efforts to work out
scary news through play, drawing, or other activities.
As a self-protection measure, your child may react in ways
that concern you. Don't be alarmed by common reactions to violence, such
- Having a seemingly uncaring attitude. A child
may believe that someone was "stupid" for getting hurt.
- A morbid
fascination with a violent event. For example, a child may want to continually
talk about something violent or gruesome and ask parents detailed
- Playing in morbid or violent ways, such as pounding an
action figure on the floor. This behavior is a way that children work out
issues. It is not a sign that they have violent tendencies.