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Overcoming kids' fears



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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