Fear of failure, the dark, heights, public speaking, being teased, an imaginary boogeyman, or losing a sports competition are all common and natural occurrences for children. Growing up presents many fears to overcome, which, when conquered, form part of healthy character building.
Of course, parental guidance may be necessary to teach kids how to conquer fear. Our team believes that there’s no better way than encouraging them to talk about what they’re feeling and allowing them to partake in fear conquering activities.
Reasons for Children’s Fears
Fear is a normal emotion. It’s programmed into our nervous systems. As a survival instinct, it mobilizes us to cope with potential danger and motivates us to act, so we remain safe. As we get older, we learn to manage fear.
However, because children are still developing, they may not have the emotional and psychological capacity to discern when their fear is justified or exaggerated yet. Children’s worries and fears typically stem from the following scenarios:
- Genetics: Some kids are naturally more sensitive or emotionally temperamental.
- Nurture: When parents are overly fearful, children tend to inherit their tendencies.
- Helicopter parenting: Children who are highly dependent on their parents may feel incapable of doing things without help, which can lead to general anxiety.
- Stressful circumstances: When parents separate, if a family member passes away, or children or their family members or friends are injured or hospitalized.
Luckily, dealing with fear is manageable, and there are simple solutions to facilitate overcoming fears. Here’s how to teach your child not to be scared.
Activities to Overcome Fear
Wondering how to get rid of fear? Make your kids feel safe and gradually involve them in activities like obstacle course fitness classes that are designed to help overcome failure. Fear can affect the brain’s architecture of memory and learning, so you want to ensure your kids learn how to deal with it healthily.
As a parent, you can empower your kids with “tools” that make a difference and allow your children to thrive (However, if they suffer from chronic and irrational fear, then it may be best to seek professional help).
Normalizing expectations, practicing relaxation, and talking about it can help your kids learn more about themselves, so they know how to deal with whatever is troubling them. And remember, if as a parent you are calm, it’s more likely that your child will be too.
#1. Send Your Child to a Leadership Summer Camp
Hot Ground Gym’s leadership summer camps boost a child’s self-esteem and confidence. Our high-energy program, comprised of team-building activities and obstacle-course fitness challenges, is excellent for children who have a fear of not being good enough.
We offer a supportive and nurturing environment where kids are challenged to do their best by completing physical and cognitive tasks individually, and as a team. Each time they win a challenge, they learn to trust themselves and grow more confident in their capabilities.
While we don’t teach kids how to deal with fear directly, we know that placing them in a social learning environment forces them to overcome anxiety related to making new friends or completing challenging tasks. They learn they don’t have to be afraid of failure because they can just try again.
#2. Read Books That Deal With Fear
Kids might not inherently know how to get over anxiety, in which case reading stories about characters in similar situations can subtly teach them what to do. Storytelling is powerful because your children will identify with characters who experience the same thing. Some favorites for younger kids include:
- What To Do When You Worry Too Much by Dawn Huebner
- The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone
- Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
For older kids, you can help “put their fear in context.” For instance, if your child is worried the pandemic will never be over, you can find a similar event that’s passed (the Spanish Flu) and discuss how it ended. Or, if your child has a fear of failing, you might research famous icons related to what they fear and point to both their failures and successes.
Help them realize failure is a possibility, but it doesn't mean they can’t achieve success again and they don’t need to be afraid of failing.
#3. Do Talk It Out
When teaching kids how to overcome fear and anxiety, it’s important to acknowledge and not dismiss their feelings, even when their fears don’t seem scary to you. Once you know what they fear, and you’ve validated their feelings, you can work with your child to set reasonable goals to overcome their anxiety.
For example, if they’re afraid of sleeping in the dark, you might let them sleep with a night light on for a week before turning it off, but leave the door open, so the passage light is still visible. Never try to talk your child out of irrational fear. When kids panic, it’s difficult to reason with them, so make sure your communication is positive, empathetic, and solutions-based.
#4. Use Art and Crafts
Creativity is a wonderful stress-reliever. If your child can’t talk about their fears, they might be able to express them on a blank page. This is why art therapists use art to help children explore their thoughts and feelings, which can improve their mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
For older kids who can communicate their feelings, art and crafts will calm them down and distract them from focusing too much on their fears. Making mandalas, using adult coloring books, creating collages or affirmation cards forces them to focus on the present, rather than spiraling down a rabbit hole of negative emotions.
#5. Practice Relaxation Strategies
Harvard University researchers found mindfulness can help people recognize that some fear reactions are disproportionate to the threat. Fear makes kids tense. Teaching them to practice relaxation strategies can help them gain control of the situation and think more rationally.
Something as simple as a breathing exercise will lower their heart rate and relax their muscles. For example, when teaching your child how to conquer fear, you might tell them to slowly count to ten, or inhale and exhale to the count of five. Listening to calming music can also help reduce fear.
At Hot Ground Gym, we provide kids with the emotional and physical skills they need to excel in life, which includes overcoming fears. Our camps and weekly obstacle course classes boost a child’s confidence, which ultimately helps them deal with fear. Why not enroll your kid in an extracurricular program that’s safe, challenging, and fun? Contact us to arrange a free trial class!