Monday 16 April 2018

How to Help Children Deal with Fear - Chitra Soundar

While fear isn’t always a bad thing and it stops us from doing things that might harm us – like touching flames or approaching a tiger, all children as they understand the world around them go through fears.

Telling a child (or an adult) not to fear something is not going to fix the problem. But maintaining calm when a child is fearful, telling stories, singing to them will reduce the current and future anxiety associated with that specific fear.

In her article on WebMD, Annie Stuart points out that storms, sudden and loud noises are common childhood fears. And that is reiterated by this research that surveyed 1700 kids.

Dr Lagattuta quoted in the same article says that it takes the age of seven at least for children to be able to redirect their attention to something less fearful, to take their mind off things. So until then what children need is a deliberate redirection of their thoughts by adults and in my world that is storytelling.
In my latest book You’re SafeWith Me, little animals are afraid of the thunderstorm and its elements – wind, thunder, lightning, the river and darkness. The little animals are reassured by Mama Elephant calmly as she repeats “You’re Safe With Me” and at the same time, she distracts their thoughts into a happy place – she tells them why these elements are loud and how they are fascinating in their own way. The wind brings seeds from faraway places to make the forest, the lightning breaks into small stars.

That’s why the refrain in this story is important – it doesn’t reject the fears of the little animals. Mama Elephant acknowledges their fear and tries to deflect their worries into happy thoughts. That’s exactly what Pam Nicholson, a certified parenting educator says in her article here.
Lori Lite, a certified children's meditation facilitator quoted in this article says – to reassure young children and to reduce their worries, there is one simple technique – turn on a CD or a read a book.
Dr. Michele Borba too in her website recommends reading books about fears – bibliotherapy as professionals call it, will help deal with the worries.
Many of us in the book world know that books are a great way to address fears, have discussions with children about their worries. So I thought I'd list some books that deal with worries, fears and emotions that can be used when reassuring or distracting children from their fears.
Find a list of books that deal with fears, emotions of one’s own and others in this wonderful curated list at Empathy Lab -
And here is a long list of books (from US predominantly) that deal with fears and worries.
And finally here is a list of helpful articles on handling children’s fears that you might want to read:

Chitra Soundar is the author of over 30 books for children. Find out more about You’re Safe With Me and all her new books at and follow her on twitter @csoundar

1 comment:

Candy Gourlay said...

Great article. Just curious ... did you do that research before, during or after writing the book?