A little bit of fear is good for our children says Sarie Taylor, David Luke’s
Resident Anxiety Coach. But how can we as parents, help our kids to navigate their fight or flight responses during uncertain times?
What is fear?
Fear is a really crucial part of survival as a human being, and in actual fact, it’s part of what keeps us alive when faced with danger. The feeling of fear only comes from us sending a message to our brain that we are currently facing, or about to face danger. We can all experience being startled numerous times a day for example, when a door bangs shut. This bang can alert our internal alarm that we need to be alert. Once we stop worrying and realise it’s only the door, our heart rate settles back down and the feelings of fear pass. We can, however, end up in a cycle where we start fearing things that haven’t and may never happen.
You may recognise your child is on edge or in this cycle if they are easily agitated. Asking a lot of questions about what may happen, twitches, clinging to a parent, regular stomach ache or feeling sick and so on. This is not a reason for us as parents to panic, it’s a sign for us and our children that they are misusing the survival mechanism fight or flight.
In the same way we would in many other areas of life, if we are not using something properly and it was causing distress for us, then we would rectify this and learn other ways. To find other ways we need to understand more about what we are experiencing, so understanding more about how human nature works.
It is never too early for a child to understand the relationship between their thoughts sending a message to their brain and that the body then reacts. This is what they are experiencing day in and day out, and yet they will probably not understand it, as most adults don’t either. Understanding this more makes it less scary when it inevitably happens. The less we fear something, the quicker it passes, and we break that automatic cycle of overthinking and fear.
Our fight or flight gets bad press because we do not like the feeling of it but the more we understand it the more we can see its actually a gift as it keeps us alive!
Sarie Taylor is The Perfectly Imperfect Mind Mentor and is a qualified psychotherapist, specialist anxiety coach and founder of Sarie Taylor Coaching www.sarietaylor.com