As they continue to grow, your grandchildren will face many confusing and frightening things. But you can make a difference, lessening their fears.
Statistics show, through their natural growth process, children who feel supported and loved, learn to work through fear in healthy ways. Understanding the pattern of fear through normal development stages will help you help the children you love.
Ages (0-2) Infant and Toddlers
Loud noises, such as thunderstorms, loud music, shouting, sirens, balloons bursting, abrupt movement, and anything that could be too much for the senses, will frighten children at this stage. Limit loud noises if possible.
For uncontrollable sounds such as thunder, show them that you are not scared, speak slowly and at a low, gentle, calm decible, and hold them close when possible.
Ages (3- 4)
Costumes, clowns, strangers, and anything new to them can scare children at this stage. Loud noises still scare them, but not as easily as when they were infants. Children at this age usually have a very active imaginations, so ask yourself how certain movies or TV shows might play on their minds.
Ask them what they are thinking or what stands out, to better understand what’s really rolling through their brains — versus assuming or guessing.
Fear of darkness often magnifies around this stage. Whatever a child sees might easily influence their thoughts, making them vulnerable to over thinking. But they are also able to communicate more clearly.
Ask them what scares them, don’t tell them they are being silly or stupid, instead, assure them you can understand why the situation might cause fear, but offer common sense reasons that their fears are unfounded. Leaving a night light on can do wonders at night.
Fear of death, monsters, witches, and being alone usually surface around this age. Some children become paranoid, and even think their parents will soon leave them for good, especially if a recent death in the family has occurred, or the parents are fighting within the child’s hearing.
Even a run to the grocery store for a quick buy can throw children of this age into a panic. Assure your grandkids that their parents love them, and no matter what, they will be loved.
What a Grandparent Can Do
Always say goodbye. Whenever you have to leave, even for a short while, inform children so they aren’t blindsided, surprised, or scared by what feels like a sudden departure. Good communication creates trust.
Give Them Accurate Information
A child’s mind is very creative and imaginative — one wrong detail might cause confusion and set him/her into a state of fear. Never give false information to a child just to silence them or avoid conflict. Security is built on trust, and trust can only grow from the soil of truth told in love.
How do you calm your grandchild(ren) when they are afraid?