Children's fears are very real. Whānau can help children deal with fears through things such as reading, telling stories together and drawing pictures.
Children’s fears can feel very real to them, just as adults’ fears feel very real to them, too.
Helping children deal with fears, for ages 25–36 months, contains plenty of conversation starters to invite whānau to talk about fears their tamaiti may have.
Another resource that provides guidance for conversations with whānau is the leaflet 'Helping each other after the earthquake'. Even if the child’s fears are nothing to do with an earthquake, the general guidelines are similar and can be useful for whānau to think about.
For example, look at the paragraph on page 2 that starts, ‘Listen, listen, listen. You don’t need answers, listening helps people work out their own thoughts, ideas and solutions. Listen for as long as it takes until it’s clear that you really understand how it is for them.’
This is great advice for anyone who is trying to help others. Listening to someone deeply and carefully is one of the best gifts you can give them.
Pages 2 and 3 are full of helpful ideas, whether you’re dealing with a specific event or a more general fear.
Stories and pictures
A good source of help for talking with tamariki about their fears is books. A visit to the local library and a talk with the children’s librarian could be very helpful.
Reading a book with a child can help them to deal with the subject, without it being too close to their own experience.
Here are some titles that are worth looking at:
- Franklin in the dark by Paulette Bourgeois
- The dark by Lemony Snicket
- Brave as a mountain lion by Ann Herbert Scott
- There’s an alligator under my bed by Mercer Mayer
- Quaky cat by Diana Noonan and Gavin Bishop. (This is a book written after the Canterbury earthquakes to help children and their families talk about their experiences.)
Further conversations might involve telling stories and drawing a picture of the scary thing or experience.
Pātai atu ki te whānau:
- How do you think your child would react to drawing a picture about …?
- How might you prepare for that?
- What can you do to make sure your tamaiti doesn’t get more scared by the conversations and stories?
- Do you remember having fears as a child?
- What helped you?
- What didn’t help?
Let’s have a look at Whakatipu booklet Te Māhuri 2, page 19. Is there anything here in ngā tohu whānau that might help?
- Love and warmth – being in tune with our tamaiti as they experience challenges.
- Talking and listening – patiently listening to them and helping to answer their questions.
- Structured and secure world – having routines for separating from our tamaiti and returning.
Likewise, find some items in Ara mātua that could be relevant.
Or make up something, especially about what’s going on, for example, ‘We will sit, talk gently to the dog and pat it together for a few minutes every day.’
Or ‘I will sit and talk calmly with my tamaiti for a few minutes at bedtime.’