Your knees are shaking.

You cover your eyes and are breathing fast.

It’s clear that you feel afraid.

When we think of fear, our first reaction is probably a negative one. After all, who wants to be afraid? Why would we want to feel weak and helpless, or endangered?

But a healthy amount of fear is good for us.

It keeps us from walking right across a busy street, warns us against touching hot stoves, gives us clear judgment in a scary situation, and prepares us for the worst possible outcome. In sum, fear does a lot of work to keep us safe. That churning-stomach feeling might be unpleasant, but it could also be a gut instinct steering us away from harm.

But a lot of fear can also become a bad thing.

If there’s too much of it, it can work against its usual function. Instead of motivating us forward, it paralyzes us.

Children are especially known for their fear, such as in the form of nightmares. They’re new to the world — it’s an unfamiliar place. For parents of children, this can be worrying. How much of your child’s fear is normal, and how much is cause for concern?

This article from Moms.com gives a helpful rundown of what to expect from your child. There are many forms of fear that are normal for kids of certain ages. For example, it’s common for your school-aged kid to feel nervous to start at a new school.

But how can you tell if the fear is detrimental? 

The article outlines two telltale signs: the child is either going out of her way to avoid that fear, or breaking down in distress. Avoidance looks like refusing to go anywhere, or do anything, where that fear could be involved. For example, maybe your child won’t go anywhere near pools because she’s scared of sharks. Distress might look like a tantrum — the child screams and cries. 

This shows that the anxiety has started to affect your child’s thoughts and actions. It’s preventing them from living their life freely and happily.

With support, as your child grows, he can overcome these anxieties or phobias. There are many different anxiety disorders, so it’s important to get the help that’s right for your particular child. Your child is feeling this way for a reason, and that’s valid. But fear doesn’t have to have the last word. 

Refer to this site for information on the impact of chronic fear. 

What things is your child afraid of, and how do they communicate that fear?

By Laila Alexander (Regular Guest Blogger)