Saturday, March 24, 2012

Are You Scaring Your Child?

When we are very young, our parents inadvertently program us to be
what we eventually become~

Did you know that young children have more fears and phobias than adults, and experience the emotion of them more intensely? They seem to fear a whole array of things: some fear animals, kidnapping, being alone in the dark and injections, while others are afraid of monsters or snakes, and many young children fear the loss of a parent, death, injury and divorce.

I once had a piano student who was terrified of dogs. I had a Yorkie that weighed about five pounds. Sadie was harmless, but barked when people came. Small dogs are usually “yappy,” but I love them anyway! However, when this little 10 year old girl came for her lesson, she’d wait at the door until I put Sadie in another room and closed the door. When I questioned her mother about her fear, she said, as far as she knew, her daughter had never been bitten or even threatened by a dog. It seemed to be an innate fear. I hope she outgrew it.

Our twelve year old granddaughter’s fear of men is uncanny. Recently, I went along when her mother took her to the hospital for a test. Unfortunately, her doctor was a man. She was quite upset, to the point of tears, when she was told her mother couldn’t go into the room where she was to be anesthetized and the test conducted. But when a young female nurse told her she’d be in the room with her the whole time, her attitude changed drastically and she told us, smiling, “I’m fine now.”

This young lady has a loving father, brother and grandfather. All the men in our family have children of their own and we don’t know of a single instance of mistreatment by a man. I certainly hope she learns somewhere along the way to trust men, at least a little. Her life will be miserable if she doesn’t.

The thing is – children are like sponges. They soak up everything they see and hear. That’s good in a classroom at school, but I’m not so sure how good it is in the “school of life.” We, as adults, must be very careful what we say and do in their presence. The kind of example we set is crucial to the way a child’s life turns out.

We certainly want to teach them to be careful about talking to strangers, and never to get in a car with a person they don’t know, but when they hear us elaborate on these things constantly, it can do more harm than good. It’s a well-known fact that adults teach children to fear certain things before the child has ever encountered them. Children may also 'pick up' the fears of adults in their family – just from listening to conversations.

Children are supposed to be happy, carefree and fearless little beings whose parents and others around them watch over them and keep them safe. Rewind back to my childhood (not saying how long ago), and that’s the way it was. I can’t remember ever being afraid of anything as a young child, except being punished for misbehaving! :) That was scary enough – with a mother like mine!

I’m not trying to minimize the dangers out there today. I know what they are. I’m just saying that we should seek some balance in the way we warn our children. Teach them the importance of being watchful without making nervous wrecks out of them before they’re teen-agers. I know a 10 year old who is being treated for a stomach ulcer!

That’s sad.


Anonymous said...

Something to think about. the more we warn them, the more afraid they get. I like it.

Jon said...

Yes that is sad peg. no child should have to have a stomach ulcer. more and more it seems that children are having adult diseases. that's because we make them grow up too fast these days. strange world. Jon

luella said...

Good post. it is something to think aobut. most of us let our kids hear to many conversations that they shouldn't. luella

Drema said...

When I was a child, and adults were talking about serious matters, we were told to go play outside or go to another room. We as adults subject our little ones to too much of the things that they should not know. They grow up to fast now, let babies be babies, toddlers be toddlers, little girls and boys be little boys and girls. let them grow up naturally, but with guidence.

Peggy~ said...

Amen, Drema! They grow up way too fast! Some little girls are wearing make-up at 10. It seems their mothers look the other way. I think when they're allowed to grow up too fast, they always regret it later on. Childhood is too precious to miss! I can really get on my soapbox about this one!