Ginger Ray has teamed up with confidence coach Lucy Cox to share six tips for helping your kids overcome any fears they might have developed post-Halloween.
1. Get talking
This time of year can be a great time to talk to kids about what Halloween is all about, why we get scared, and why people enjoy a good fright! And then, if they do get frightened, we can use that as an opportunity to help them learn about their likes and dislikes, setting boundaries, and how to manage their emotions. Every day’s a school day!
2. Understand what makes them feel better
With any form of negative emotion, we need to know how to make ourselves feel better again after a wobble.
We all feel these emotions sometimes, and they are perfectly normal, but experimenting with what calms them down the best will be a great investment of your time. That might be deep breathing, squeezing a sensory toy, going for a walk, or having a favourite scent; we are all different, so spend some time working out what works for them.
Then, when they are faced with their fear, you can use these tools to help regulate their emotions in the moment.
3. Teach them more about it
One of the best tips when it comes to removing the fear of something is to learn some interesting facts about it and get to know it better. This can help to take some of the mystery and unpredictability from it, as fear often lies in the unknown.
Our brains are hard-wired to keep us safe, so we tend to fill in the gaps in our knowledge with a worst-case scenario to make sure we are prepared for the worst.
4. Encourage them to see it differently
Consider the different ways you could view the thing they are afraid of. If it is a creature (spider, mouse, snake, etc.), can you see it as a living thing with a personality, family, and feelings? Can you give it a funny voice? Could you make up a story as to what it is doing? Can you give it a silly name?
If it is an inanimate object, can you break it down into parts to see it for what it really is? (e.g., plastic, string, and dye). Their mind might be automatically seeing it as something scary when actually it’s just a blob with some googly eyes on it!
5. Face it in small steps
Take baby steps to build tolerance for it. Start by encouraging them to be in the same room as it. Ask them, “Can you stand nearer to it? A bit closer? Now, can you touch it?” etc. Celebrate each step with some sort of dopamine-fueled reward (a sweet treat, a dance, a high-five, etc.) to encourage their brain to do it again.
Telling them off for being silly is only going to make their brain associate even more negative feelings with it. Rewarding the little wins will help them keep taking positive steps towards overcoming their fear.
6. Seek help if needed
Lots of people have had success with things like hypnotherapy, NLP, exposure therapy, and even counselling to help them manage or overcome fears. Most practitioners will offer a free chat to see if they think they could help your child.