When things are scary

Fear is a Strong Deterrent.

As parents we want to protect our children. We want to protect them from both physical pain and psychological pain. The longer we can keep them in the bubble of no pain and sadness, the better we feel we have done our jobs.

As they get older and start to explore the world, some children are naturally more cautious; others are more daring. The job of keeping them from getting hurt gets more difficult. Yet protecting them from fear can make our jobs harder. 

When children are afraid of something, they don't do it. And there are things that we do to protect them, and they don't know why. Children don't know what will happen in a car accident, or if they fall from up high. Children don't know that hot things burn and they don't know sitting in a dirty diaper will cause diaper rash. 

Instilling some very realistic fear about situations that are genuinely scary, provides young children with the real, see it, feel it, information about why we need them to avoid certain situations. 

Show them pictures of rotten teeth to motivate them to brush their teeth. Let them watch a video of a car crash and see the test dummies fly out of the car. This makes it real for them, like it is for you. 

I know some parents worry about making their children more fearful. You, of course, have to keep your child's temperament in mind. But a timid child who is overly sheltered, stays timid. Slow, supported exposure is a way to help an anxious child gain tools for dealing with anxiety.