Children don't understand that the more they avoid the object of their fear, the more the fear will grow. Psychologists at the Behavioral Institute of Atlanta say these are tactics a parent can use to fight fears: * Imagination: Help the child think of positive things about the item or situation that is feared. Read relevant stories and encourage him to pretend positive outcomes. * Information: Give them information to correct misconceptions about what they fear. Kids' magazines and books can help. * Desensitize: Provide a series of experiences that help the child be more comfortable with the scary situation. Some common fears and ways to handle them: Sleep: Read stories about pleasant sleep, like Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book. Use doll play to show going to sleep. Get a sequence for going to bed, like a story, getting tucked in, telling happy things that happened that day. Have the child observe a baby or sibling sleeping. Animals: Read and tell stories about friendly dogs and cats. Explain why a dog wags its tail. Let the child observe a dog or cat through a window or visit a pet store. Later, ask him to pet a puppy you are holding. Thunder: Explain what causes thunder. Read or tell stories about how people can be happy inside when there is a storm. Distract her with games and tapes during a storm. Gradually leave the room for longer periods during the storm. Going to the doctor: Read or tell stories about kind doctors and how they help kids. Toy doctor's kits let him or her bandage a doll or give it a "shot". Ask the doctor to explain what will happen before giving a shot. Distract her by asking her to talk to you, blow hard, or look at something else. Sparking the child's imagination about positive aspects, giving information, and gradually exposing a child to the situation should help.
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