How to treat a child’s fright

The mobile nervous system of a child is susceptible to strong shocks caused by seemingly insignificant factors. Interestingly, impressionable toddlers experience psychological discomfort so acutely that it equates to the experience of physical pain. What constitutes consternation? Fear is a reflex reaction to a threatening factor. An imprint of negative feelings creeps into the child’s mind and worries him with anxious manifestations.

Signs of a child's fright

Signs of childhood fright can be divided into two groups. The first are those which appear immediately at the moment of exposure to a traumatic factor. They have a short-term nature. The second – the delayed signs. They manifest themselves periodically, tormenting the child and give rise to other fears, anxiety, restlessness.Let’s get better acquainted with the first group:

  1. Expansion of the pupils. This is a reflex reaction of the visual analyzer to the occurrence of potential danger. The body tries to intensify sensations and expand the field for threat analysis.

  2. Crying. Through the flow of tears there is an instant release of negative emotions that the little man is experiencing.

  3. Increased heart rate is due to the production of stress hormones that activate the body’s cardiovascular system.

  4. Children of preschool age and older include the sign of involuntary urination or defecation.

  5. Loss of coordination, disorientation in space.

The second group of signs is more extensive and will more accurately establish the fact of a fright in children(especially in infants who are not yet able to express themselves verbally):

  1. Insomnia, nightmares. The subconscious mind reflects the presence of trauma in the form of frightening images in dreams. Also the presence of certain experiences greatly excites the child’s nervous system. This disturbs the sleep-wake cycle. Other sleep disturbances may also occur – the child starts to talk, cries loudly in his sleep, and exhibits nocturnal enuresis.

  2. New fears arise. The child reacts painfully to previously familiar things – he becomes afraid to be alone, he is afraid of the dark, he is wary of certain toys, objects, animals.

  3. Increased excitability. The child reacts more acutely to comments, words and actions. He becomes more sensitive and is easily moved to tears or made angry. If the baby was previously calm, and now he is not, it is cause for reflection.

  4. Stuttering. Speech impairment occurs against a background of altered psychomotor development due to an ordeal of severe stress. It affects toddlers, preschoolers, and less often school-aged children. If your baby begins to stutter, do not delay a consultation with a neurologist. It may be connected with an organic lesion of the brain.

  5. Shuttering is a consequence of previous manifestations of fright (bedwetting, stuttering, hyperexcitability). Feeling changes, permanent negative experiences are reflected in the socialization and alienate the child from his playmates and parents. Fears not corrected in time affect the construction of interpersonal relationships.

At a young age, fears that have a real basis are experienced just as acutely as unfounded phobias. This occurs due to the specifics of children’s perception of themselves and the surrounding reality. The methods and techniques presented in this article will help your child cope with the fright and correct its side effects.

Ways to combat childhood fright

Specialists say that exposure to neurosis is due to the immaturity of autonomic regulation (the central nervous system regulation of internal organs), an imbalance of excitation – inhibition reactions of the nervous system. Therefore, children are more likely to experience clinical manifestations of fright.

It is better to entrust the treatment of fright to specialists: child psychologists, psychotherapists, neurologists. But the success of therapy depends on the parents’ behavior, their support and the right tactics for interacting with a traumatized child. Let’s consider professional therapeutic methods and successful conditions of treatment of fright, organized by parents.

What to do if your child is frightened

Your attitude toward your baby’s disorder determines how he or she will live through it. Read the following recommendations that will ease the painful process of getting rid of childhood neurosis:

  1. Respect the baby’s feelings.Trying to correct a child’s negative experiences by devaluing them, not acknowledging them, and not paying attention to them leads to the fact that the child ceases to appreciate his feelings and desires. The parents’ attitude towards the child’s experiences directly influences the healthy maturing of the emotional-volitional sphere. You must acknowledge your baby’s feelings and evaluate them through the prism of his/her sensations (how painful, intense, etc.).d.). Show him or her that you understand and acknowledge his or her emotions. Through your respect for his feelings and emotions, he will have an appropriate relationship to his feelings and emotions.

  2. Be by your side. The tearfulness, moodiness, excitability, aggression of frightened, traumatized children forces their parents to leave them alone to “think about their behavior”. Leaving a child alone with pain and fears is an unhealthy parenting tactic that leads to a worsening of his psycho-emotional state. It is necessary to show that you are always there. Feeling solid support in the form of parental understanding, support and constant readiness to come to the aid will accelerate the therapeutic process.

  3. Create positive impressions.In moments of negative experiences, it is difficult for the child to experience joy and happiness. Help him and create positive emotions. Think about what your child loves, what activities, things that bring him joy? Walking, playing together, and engaging in hobbies will bring you together and reinforce positive feelings.

  4. Use elements of professional therapy at home, having previously agreed on them with a specialist. There are many methods of psychotherapy, elements of which can be transferred to the home. For example, according to the principles of art therapy, it is possible to use free associations to represent unconscious phobias and negative experiences in a drawing. Or begin to struggle with the cause of the fright with its display on a piece of paper (for example, draw a kind dog who treats the baby well, etc.).).

  5. RelaxationRelated to getting rid of the negative consequences of neurotic disorder. For example, increased excitability is corrected by listening to calm music. Also suitable for relaxation are sets of physical exercises and muscle stretching. It is important to remember one rule – all these methods are good if the child does not mind doing them. Otherwise, they will only aggravate the situation and intensify the experience of fright.

  6. Show your child that you have fears too.Now he/she thinks that his/her feelings are his/her own. This is related to child egocentrism. Tell him or her that you also have fears, and what phobias you have. Show by example how you can deal with them. Let your baby know that even adults are capable of being afraid, and that it is a normal phenomenon for any person.

Love, care and attention from parents are the best preventive and therapeutic methods to deal with a fright. In this difficult period, children should avoid the accompanying negative experiences. If your toddler has done something that should be punished, talk to him in calm tones. Try to find out the reason for his or her actions, tell him or her the consequences and what you are experiencing. Adequate analysis of misbehavior will help avoid unnecessary traumatic experiences.

Principles of therapy for childhood neuroses

Principles of professional therapy for childhood neuroses

Psychologists and neurologists approach the treatment of fright from a scientific point of view. So, in psychology, there are a lot of projective methods that can cure neuroses. What these methods are:

  1. Art therapyis based on drawing a picture of the child’s current condition. The child is given the task of drawing a picture on any theme in a free choice of colors. This is the first – the diagnostic stage. Now the specialist interprets the findings and develops a further therapeutic strategy. Afterwards, with the help of guiding and corrective techniques, the psychologist helps the child get rid of negative emotions, reconsider the attitude toward the fear and devalue it.

  2. Role-playinghelp the child take on different social positions. by trying himself or herself, for example, as a policeman, fireman, or a superhero, the child can feel his or her inner strength and find a support to fight the anxiety.

  3. Fairy tale therapy is aimed at the development of various behavioral scenarios. Discusses with the child the plot of the fairy tale, the behavior of the heroes, their attitudes toward them and the effectiveness of their actions. Fairy tales with a storyline of the appropriate subject matter, helping from the outside to learn about fears and transferring the experience of virtual heroes to real life.

  4. Animalistic therapyis aimed at relaxation, improvement of interaction skills and correction of psychological disorders. Communicating with animals creates positive experiences that are a solid foundation for effective relief from phobias and neurosis.

  5. The method of diagnostic and therapeutic conversation.If the baby is already able to talk and articulate his thoughts, the psychologist holds a conversation with him. It can take place in a free form, or according to a pre-prepared scenario.

The holistic therapy of fears is not limited to consultations with a psychologist. A consultation with a neurologist is necessary if the child has psychomotor disorders against a background of neurosis or excessive excitability of the nervous system. If necessary, the doctor will prescribe sedatives (to calm the child, reduce the intensity of negative experiences), drugs that stimulate brain activity. It is important to know that the prescription of such medications is engaged only by a specialist with the appropriate education. Incorrect selection of medication can have a negative effect on the child’s condition.

If a speech impairment occurs, caused by a strong experience of fear, the baby needs to consult a speech therapist-defectologist. Work with a speech therapist will help eliminate the effects of fright (stuttering), improve pronunciation, work on articulation and phonemic hearing.

How not to frighten a child

To avoid the need for therapy of fright, it is worth creating favorable conditions for the child’s development. There are several risk groups, getting into which increases the likelihood of developing neurotic conditions. I suggest you read about them:

  1. Abuse in the family.Physical and psychological abuse, ignoring the basic and emotional needs of the baby, leads to the emergence of phobias and distrust of the world around. Children who have experienced cruelty from people who should love and protect them unconditionally become potential victims of real and imagined fears. The consequence of exposure to phobias is anxiety, which develops into neuroses.

  2. Physical illnesses and disabilities. Not all families who have a child with disabilities or developmental disabilities, treat these features calmly. Feelings of their own inferiority generate social anxiety, experiencing which also leads to neurotic states.

  3. Difficulties in social adjustment.Failure to adjust relationships with peers, non-acceptance by society causes feelings of inferiority. This feeling is the basis for mistrust, mistrust and fears. Children with complexes and social fears are characterized by acute experience of traumatic events.

  4. Parental overprotection.You think that you are protecting your child from potential danger, but in fact you give him or her insecurity and fear. Being guarded by discussing potential threats makes kids fearful, withdrawn, and increases the risk of fright.

What simple actions parents can take to help avoid childhood neuroses:

  1. Respect your child’s personality.Physical methods of punishment and abuse are unacceptable. Create a nurturing environment where you surround your child with understanding, love, care, and support.

  2. Talk to your child about safety procedures and rules. Knowing these points will help your child act consciously in potentially dangerous situations and avoid experiencing fear.

  3. Don’t scare your baby with animals, people passing by(e.g., “your aunt will take you away now,” “if you misbehave, the dog will bite you,” etc.).d.). On the contrary, try to present information about social safety and the rules of communication with animals in an adequate form.

  4. Talk to your baby, Respond to his worries. Awareness increases the likelihood that your toddler will react appropriately to stressors.


Scared is a serious test for a child. Experiencing it delivers a lot of negative feelings. It takes a lot of effort to cope with it. But it is important to remember that parental love and respect for your baby’s feelings can minimize the risk of a phobia.

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