Cowardly Lion: All right, I’ll go in there for Dorothy. Wicked Witch or no Wicked Witch, guards or no guards, I’ll tear them apart. I may not come out alive, but I’m going in there. There’s only one thing I want you fellows to do.
Tin Woodsman, Scarecrow: What’s that?
Cowardly Lion: Talk me out of it.
As far as fearfulness goes, the Cowardly Lion was probably on the far end of the continuum. That didn’t make him any less “normal;” he just needed people in his life to support, understand and encourage him; just as our children do when they are fearful. Since they may not display their fears as outwardly as the Cowardly Lion did, and since all children are different and unique in what they fear, it’s important that parents learn to tune in to their children’s fears and behaviors and try to understand them. Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Realize that it’s normal for fears to come and go as your child grows and develops.
- Respect that the fear is real for your child. Don’t tease or make fun of your child.
- Never force your child to confront the fear before he/she is ready. Allow your child to work through it at their own pace. When they do, be sure to give lots of praise.
- Try to gently help your child get used to the fearful object or situation – for example, using a toy fire engine may help to reduce the fear of the real one.
- Help your child feel physically secure by hugging him/her, holding his/her hand and being close. You can also teach your child to take slow, deep breaths to reduce their anxiety.
- Try not to reinforce the fear by making too much of it. Overprotection can also cause children to be unnecessarily fearful.
Limit your child’s exposure to media that may create or worsen fears. This includes TV, movies, video games, Internet and even printed materials like books or magazines.
Help your children understand that they too, just like the Cowardly Lion, can overcome their fears!
By Claire Gawanowicz
Certified Parenting Educator