Dealing with irrational fears

The addition of a new baby to the family has proven interesting. For the first two weeks, while Mom was in bed recovering with the tiny one, everything went smoothly. The last week, however, Linda has been up and about, much more involved in the day-to-day of our family life. And our daughter A- has had a really hard time with it.
Not directly, however. She’s thrilled with the baby, eager for maximal Mom time, but her fears, never completely gone, came back stronger than we’ve ever seen. Fears about things like how pollution in the air might have gotten in her mouth and how she might die. About eating an egg and being afraid that a tiny bit of shell could kill her. About black widow spiders hiding out in her pajamas, waiting for her to go to bed.
We weren’t sure how to deal with the problem because, at heart, we’re like most adults and we rationalize, we talk about things and address them on a level that isn’t in sync with the development of a child. So after some thought I realized that personification could be a possible avenue of solution and had A- create a “spider guest book”, a page with a drawing of a spider and two columns of information, one headed “name” and the other headed “date”. Just like a real guestbook.
When she did that, G- promptly made a guestbook for wolves and dinosaurs, more in the ‘monkey see, monkey do’ vein than because he has huge fears about either creature.
Then we had the children leave their guestbooks where they thought the scary creatures were most likely to appear, with a pen or crayon aside it. During the next 24 hour period, I would say that they checked their guestbooks at least every 2-3 hours (when they weren’t at school). 24 hours later no spiders, wolves, or dinosaurs had signed their guestbooks and the fears vanished.
The fear of germs and microbes was a bit tricker, and for that we’ve been talking a lot about the “warriors in your body that beat up the germs” and how they’re actually glad for some work because otherwise they’re just bored. That’s really helped too. Remarkably, actually.
My conclusion after this week of creating fanciful but tangible ways to help them address their fears is that sometimes children need something to imagine much more than they need knowledge. And, given that we’re fully committed to a Waldorf education for our children, is that any surprise?

One comment on “Dealing with irrational fears

  1. With all the talk of so called education for our children that has been around for possibly centuries we still treat them like most of us are or have been treated. That is assuming we are just an animal, maybe a very smart one but just an animal all the same.
    This could be no further from the truth than saying we need a traffic light to tell us to stop or go. I, for one, understand that laws are basically made by and for morons. But here we are talking about fears in children, the same fears most adults seem to have as well. So if you started from a very young age with your children and allowed them the knowledge that they are more than an animal, unlike other mamals in the fact, that they are the driver and their body is the engine. What they and you actually are is not important here but for argument sake assume you are a spirit, thetan or being of some kind. With this viewpoint it is very easy to get children, and adults for that matter, to take responsibility for their own actions. And the sooner a child learns this the better that child will be. The eternal fight of the fat person trying to get slim just needs to see that his/her body will happily eat itself to death if left to it’s own choices but we control that body, or not, at our choice. You may say that that choice is modified by compulsions and/or week minds, so be it. If we are all basically the same, ie. human-beings with knowledge and experiences and where some of us choose to say yes when maybe should have said no then that is that. It all boils back to responsibility for self, because at the end of the day we all suffer our own choices. Do we not? The problems that we experience only get worse when we move that responsibility to someone/something else. Laws help us remove all blame from ourselves by awarding those that blame the coffee for spilling on a lap not the fact the coffee holder was plain clumbsy and suffered the consequences. I wonder how many of our childrens fears are really our fears that we inadvertently passed onto them by not taking responsibility for our effects of what we say in front of them. I have a 2 year old grandaughter who is scared of my parrot screeching, hmmm, maybe this is because her mother acts hysterical in front of her when it happens, every time. Yes I spoke to her and no, she knows best and will not listen to me so we all suffer the effect.
    Sorry I could go on for ever. Love the kids, teach them at every opportunity that it is they that make their choices and you will see better choices made as we all inherantly know right from wrong. Or are you going to tell me you did something wrong at any time and didn’t know you were doing it, no, I didn’t think so.

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