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How can you help your child overcome his or her fears?

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The wolf under the bed, shadows, fear of death…. Children face many fears, at all ages. As a parent, it is often very difficult to calm them. Here are six common fears deciphered and the advice of the psychotherapist Isabelle Filliozat to reassure them.

“Don’t worry”, “you’re safe”, “there’s no danger”…. Like many parents, you would like your children to be calm and strong enough to face their fears. Although unpleasant, fear is a useful emotion that allows them to react to danger. However, some fears, whether inhibiting or recurrent, spoil children’s lives. It is possible to help them face these fears by offering them tools to overcome them on their own.

“I’m afraid of the shadows in my room.

Age : 3-4 years

Every time, at bedtime, it’s the same story. As soon as the light goes out, the shadows start dancing around him and he imagines that they want to hurt him. Immediately, the crying starts and you run into the room to soothe him and turn his light back on. “At that age, all children go through this type of All children at that age go through this kind of fear,” explains psychotherapist Isabelle Filliozat. They develop their imagination and make little movies. In their bedrooms, their teddy bears, toys or dressers take shape and become terrifying monsters. It works like ambivalent figures, those drawings in which two different forms can be visualized,” adds the specialist. The problem is that once they see something that scares them, they can’t get away from that image. Hence the screams before going to bed and the night light on all night long…

To calm him down: “Help him identify the cause of the shadows: a cushion, a stuffed animal…. Teach him to turn the light on and off to calm him down. You can also play shadows with him by creating figures against the wall with your hands using a candle or a lamp. In this way, instead of getting ideas, the child will be able to understand the cause of the shadows that worry him and will stop fearing them.”

“There is a monster under my bed

Age: 3-4 years old

“Don’t leave me alone, Mama, or the wolf will come out from under my bed and eat me.” Every night, after the story, he is terrified. You have to check with him several times under the mattress, in the closets, that no evil creature is going to come and hurt him. “It’s the child’s imagination that works at full speed. In reality, monsters are linked to emotions repressed during the day,” explains Isabelle Filliozat. Let’s take the example of a child who is very angry with his sister for having stolen a toy. It is possible that he holds back from expressing this anger because his parents can’t stand it. He then feels bad and this imaginary animal hurts him, because it represents a negative feeling.

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To reassure him: “Faced with a recurring monster, which can take various forms, ask the child to express everything they have felt during the day through a drawing. You can also ask them to draw the creature and interact with it. This is a way to tame the beast and, by extension, the emotion. Finally, to reassure him, make him a little “monster spray,” which he can put under his pillow and which will allow him to defend himself at night. These tricks help to empower him.

“Mom, are you ever going to die?”

Age : About 4 years old

The question fell like a knife. Freaked out, you didn’t know what to answer, you were afraid to worry him. This is a legitimate reaction, but one that could frighten your child. Around the age of 4, we realize that life is not so simple,” says Isabelle Filliozat, “whereas before we felt protected by our parents. This creates a fear that we must avoid turning into fear by avoiding the question. These questions are natural and are part of a child’s normal development.

To reassure him: “Often, parents try to give an answer. Instead, use questions to understand their concerns. The goal is to allow your child to express himself, to put words to a very abstract concept. You can ask, “What does death mean to you? What scares you most when you think about the fact that you might die? By thinking, the child activates areas of the brain that are no longer linked to fear. Moreover, only by listening to what he wants to tell us can we penetrate into his heart!

“I am afraid to go to camp.”

Age : 5-12 years old

When you enrolled him, he was very happy to go to the sea with other children his age. It is true that sometimes, surrounded by adults, he gets a little bored on vacation. But for a few days now, as the departure approaches, he’s been afraid to leave the house. It’s anxiety rather than fear,” corrects Isabelle Filliozat. It’s healthy. It’s what allows all of us, even adults, to prepare for something. The child imagines everything that can happen. The bus might break down, he might not be able to sleep, he might be alone. These scenarios make him very anxious.

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To reassure him: “Telling him that everything will be fine is useless. In this case, the “what if” game is often magical, because it allows you to accompany his anxiety. For example: he is afraid of hurting himself. You can start asking him the following questions and ask him to answer them:

-What happens if you break a leg?
-I would go to the hospital

-Why don’t you go to the hospital?
-I would be treated…

And so on and so forth. Often the discussion ends in laughter when a crazy situation occurs. If the anxiety persists, you can conclude the game by asking, “What if what you’re worried about doesn’t happen? What if it goes well?” This is a way for the child to understand that he or she has to take the risk of these “dangers” in order to have a good time.”

“I’m afraid of insects.”

Age: 5-12 years old

While many children are fascinated by the tiny world of arthropods, and can spend hours watching them in the bushes, in the grass, in the flowers, others cannot come across one without screaming in terror. In our society, and in cities in particular, we have less and less contact with insects,” says the psychotherapist. Many of children’s fears are contagious. It is enough for a babysitter or a relative to jump at the sight of a spider for the child to panic at the sight of insects.

To reassure him: “You can educate your child in nature! Teach him what insects look like in books, on the Internet and then in the forest. The goal, little by little, is to gently confront him with these animals so that curiosity wins over fear.”

“I am afraid of others.”

Age : About 7 years old

Arriving Sunday evening, he is nervous, worried about going back to school the next day. He was having a hard time making friends and feared that others would pick on him. “One of the big mistakes we’ve made as adults is putting children of the same age together without teaching them how to behave with each other in society,” says Isabelle Filliozat. Some children develop a real fear at the thought of growing up with their little friends.

For reassurance: “Offer the child a small object, such as a rock to make friends. Explain that in the center is something precious. This priceless thing represents his heart, but it cannot be seen from the outside. Tell him to hold this magical object when he goes to see other children, so they can see what is beautiful in it and vice versa. In this way, he will gain confidence and be less afraid to go to others.

Fear, anxiety or distress?

In his book There are monsters under my bed, help your child overcome his or her fears. (Hachette, 2017), psychologist Florence Millot defines fear as “a feeling of dread linked to a real image.” Conversely, anxiety is not based on any real image.” Therefore, it is irrational. With anxiety, the child ends up not understanding why he or she is afraid. Finally, anxiety “differs from distress by the physiological changes it provokes in the whole organism (…) It is characterized by the intensity of the psychic and physical discomfort felt.”

To go further


Child: when nights turn into nightmares.

5 mistakes not to make as a parent.

(From the book The Filliozat notebooks, friend or foe?)

Forcibly exposing the child to the object of his fear: It is not necessary to add trauma.

Overprotect : This confirms the child’s helplessness.

Tranquility: With words that are not the child’s.

Minimize : The child then believes that he is “too sensitive” and devalues himself.

Exaggeration: Saying “poor little me, that’s terrible” in the face of a fear that is not insurmountable is counterproductive. The child is not fooled and may feel discredited.

Helping children face their fears.

(From the book The Filliozat notebooks, friend or foe?)

-Give you resourcesGive him resources, such as the friend-making stone or monster spray, so that he can gradually face his fears on his own.

-Secure With your fearless gaze and do not hesitate to take him in your arms.

-Ask him Ask them to measure their level of fear between 1 and 10 and empathize with their response, neither too much nor too little.

==&> Test yourself!

How much patience do you have with your children?

Raising a child requires energy, perseverance and, above all, a good dose of patience. From the cries of a baby to the provocations of a teenager, there are countless opportunities to lose your temper. Some people resist quite well, others less (or less well), and how do you react to pressure from children to undermine your patience? Take our quiz to find out where your limits are…

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The 4 favorite methods of women to achieve clitoral orgasm

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Despite scientific advances, female pleasure is still synonymous with mystery. Many studies have investigated the clitoris and its secrets, but never has the word been so free on the subject. It is in this continuity that American researchers compiled the responses of a panel of 3,017 women between the ages of 18 and 93 to make their way the secrets of sexual pleasure and clitoral orgasm. Published in April 2021, this study highlights 4 techniques women use to make vaginal penetration more pleasurable: angling, rocking, shallow penetration, and pairing.

Shallowing: multiply the pleasure by a superficial touch

84% of women resort to superficiality to, once again, increase pleasure during vaginal penetration. Behind this name, which translates into French as “superficial”, hides a pretty shallow touch, penetrating right at the entrance of the vagina. It can be done with the tip of the finger, a toy, the tip of the penis, the tongue, or the lips.

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Breath play or erotic suffocation, a dangerous sexual practice

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It is sexual behavior that is controversial. the breathing game which literally means “breath play”, is a form of erotic asphyxiation practiced during sexual intercourse. But its dangerousness is often overlooked.

What is the breathing game?

ends sexual arousal”, defines the English version of Wikipedia. In practice, “erotic asphyxia” consists ofchoking your partner in the middle of a sexual act. However, playing with your breath can be very dangerous, even deadly. “May result in accidental death by suffocation,” the definition says.

However, despite the risk of injury or fainting, this practice has many adherents. A study conducted in 2021 among 4,000 American students indicates that 26.5% of those surveyed had drowned during their last sexual encounter. Another study carried out the same year on other students reveals more worrying figures: 58% of them have already been suffocated by a partner.

L’suffocation erotic it is also very popular in BSDM circles. A french website dedicated to this type of sexual practices, explains that this restriction of breathing is “practiced in different ways: hanging, suffocation, placing the head in a plastic bag or strangulation,” reports an article in female earth.

A sexual practice that can be deadly

Very risky, the breathing game was popularized by the porn industry, making it an act in its own right, especially in sexual relations marked by domination. But in reality, the consequences of this sexual practice can be fatal. Too much pressure on the larynx can cause death.

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Although there are no official figures on the number of deaths caused by this practice, Grace Millane, a 22-year-old woman, died from it in 2018. Police found traces of strangulation that could correspond to a “four to five minute” suffocation. His partner, Jesse Kempton, was convicted of femicide and sentenced to life in prison. The defense had confided “that the young woman had accidentally died at the end of a sexual game that had gone wrong, a version that had been categorically rejected by the jury,” he recalls. paris party.

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Couple: what your position on the sofa says about your relationship

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the posture adopted by couples when they sit on a sofait’s a window into your relationship status. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by Georgina Barnett, a British psychologist, on 2,000 cohabiting couples. “Tell me how you’re sitting, I’ll tell you if everything is fine in your relationship,” says the specialist in an interview with Stylish Maternity.

Sitting next to each other: a sign of imbalance?

While most couples tend to sit on the couch together, there are some pretty subtle signs that it can be signs of relationship problems. When the partners occupy only one corner of the bench and are too close together, this is synonymous with imbalance in your relationship. “The comfortable person in the corner takes up the space, is confident, and has power in the relationship. The other, on the other hand, seems less confident. He is looking for contact and reassurance, ”explains Georgina Barnett.

However, there is a nuance when they sit more in the center of the sofa, maintaining physical contact, such as a hand on the thigh or another. “Couples established in this way have trust your relationship and therefore can afford personal space. It is a mixture of intimacy and freedom”, analyzes the psychologist. But although in love, the latter no longer experience the passion of the first days, according to the expert.

When the position on the sofa heralds a crisis

According to the psychologist, time is serious in the event that the two partners are sitting at two different ends. “It’s even worse if her legs are crossed in opposite directions,” she says. This posture is generally a sign of a Tension in the couple. It can also be a sign that something was left unsaid or resentment, according to Georgina Barnett.

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And contrary to what one might think, if the partners are based on different bases, distanced from each other, it does not necessarily mean that they are in crisis. can only be couples comfortable enough with each other to have their own space. Although this study is based on a fairly large sample, its conclusions must be taken with caution.

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