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Working with your child's reality

Fear is a natural response. It's a primitive response to give us the best chance of surviving an encounter with a predator. When something makes you scared, the cognitive (thinking) part of the brain is switched off, a physical response takes over in the body and you enter the fight, flight or freeze state. 

This is an automatic response. It is not a choice. We do not choose to be scared of something. 

Because the thinking brain has been switched off, you can't reason with someone that is scared. They can't hear you. 

This can cause a challenge when we are trying to help a child that is scared. 

As the responsible adult we try and help our child to feel ok. You might reassure them that they are safe. You might tell them you are there and you won't let anything bad happen to them. 

This is lovely...but useless! 

The fear in their head is real, and trying to tell them what is in your head doesn't make it any less real. 

To truly change what they are scared of, you have to get into their head, and help them change their own fears. 

Treat the fear as real. If it was a genuine threat, how would they deal with it?

When my daughter was about 5 years old, she woke up one night after having a nightmare. She was being chased by zombies. She'd obviously watched too many cartoons that day with zombies in them. I went through and gave her a hug and instead of telling her zombies weren't real, I asked her how we could beat those zombies. I suggested a flamethrower but she shook her head and said: "I know, I'll turn their heads around so they can't walk towards me". With that she smiled and went back to sleep. She didn't have nightmares again, or certainly none that I knew about. 


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Monsters are real

Just because you can't see something, doesn't mean it isn't real. We all have our own version of reality

Lessons for this section 1
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