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Francisco Xavier Mendez, Professor of Psychology at the University of Murcia, says in his book Fears and fears in childhood, that fear is the child's bodyguard and should not be a cause for concern as long as it is not disproportionate or the intensity of the response causes physical or emotional discomfort.
What are children afraid of today? Most of the fears of children today are the same as yesterday, because they are the result of the evolution of the human species, such as the fear of animals, storms, small and closed places, blood or being far from parents. However, others depend on historical circumstances, such as the phobia of flying, which arose with the development of air travel.
What are the main fears by age? Up to two years, the sudden loss of support, loud noises, strangers, separation from parents, injuries, animals and darkness are the main causes of fear. Between 3 and 5 years of age, the fear of strangers decreases, the fear related to loud noises, separation, animals and darkness remains, and the fear produced by physical damage and people in disguise increases. Between 6 and 8 years of age, the fear of disguised people and loud noises decreases and that produced by imaginary beings such as witches, ghosts or aliens, storms or loneliness increases. Between 9 and 12, the child's maturity level contributes to a decrease in his fear of separation, the dark and imaginary beings, and increases that produced by exams, physical appearance, social relationships and death.
Do new technologies have a positive or negative influence on children's fears? As with movies, television or children's stories, the influence of new technologies can be positive or negative depending on the use made of them. Today, new technologies are used for therapeutic purposes and allow treating childhood phobias successfully through virtual reality programs. Unfortunately, they can also be used in a very negative way as in cases of cyberbullying, which generate fear and anxiety in the harassed victim.
When can fear be considered a cause for concern? A childish fear loses its usefulness and is a cause for concern when it is disproportionate, that is, when the reaction is excessive, or when it is maladaptive, that is, when the high intensity of response produces noticeable discomfort, unpleasant symptoms (nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, fainting or headaches), serious concerns, and disturbed behavior, for example, tantrums.
How can we parents help our children overcome fear?To overcome fear, you have to face it. Instead of overprotecting the child, you have to encourage him to gradually and without forcing him to face his fear. Fear is felt involuntarily. Therefore, do not ridicule, or scold, or punish the child because he does not dare to do something that scares him. On the contrary, you must praise and congratulate him for every little act of courage that he performs.
Are the fears of girls and boys the same? How are they different and what resources do they have to deal with them? Girls are more afraid than boys. In the same way, in adult life women suffer more specific phobias than men. Gender differences are biological and sociocultural.
Are fears bad at all? Which ones can be considered good and bad? Fear is the child's bodyguard, who studies for fear of failing, who prepares the class presentation for fear of making a fool of himself, cautiously looks over a cliff for fear of falling, or who seeks the protection of parents when he's little Being afraid of danger is healthy, because you avoid taking unnecessary risks. The problem is that the fear is out of control, that is, it is so strong that it prevents a visit to the dentist, the administration of an injection or the performance of an exam.
Marisol New. Editor of our site
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