To help limit the spread of Coronavirus and to support public health efforts, many family attractions have closed temporarily. In the meantime, we invite our readers to enjoy virtual events highlighted in our Things To Do calendar. When you do go out, follow public health guidelines: wear masks, practice social distancing and wash your hands frequently. To learn why social distancing is important and effective in lessening the spread of COVID-19, hear from Dr. Alexis Elward, Chief Medical Officer at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

The Monster Under the Bed Isn't Real, But Kids' Fears Can Be

As a child, I assumed my parents weren't afraid of anything. I would call on their help when I felt scared or nervous and they were always there to check under the bed for monsters and assure me that all was safe. 

One day I found a wasp flying around in my room and I called my dad to help. When he saw what the problem was, he ran out of the room in terror. I learned my dad is terrified of wasps. And in that moment, I realized that adults have fears too.

It's normal for children to have fears. Kids may have bad dreams, be frightened of the dark, or find certain movie scenes scary. However, kids can develop fears that interrupt their everyday life, such as a fear of speaking in front of others or fear of trying new things. 

Here are some tips to help kids face their fears:

Give Permission to be Afraid

Parents can let kids know that it is perfectly normal and acceptable to be scared. When you give a child permission to feel afraid, they can begin to acknowledge what is frightening them and face it head on. Parents can give tips on how to deal with different situations, even before they happen, and work through them together. Lauren Heller, mother of twins, says "For my preschoolers, we spend time talking about the event starting a few days before. I try to help them know what to expect and allow them to ask questions."

Problem Solve

Try to pinpoint exactly what your child is afraid of and discuss ways that it can be handled. For example, when Jane Hammond's nine-year-old daughter was afraid of falling during an ice skating competition, they discussed what would be the result if she fell. The answer? Just get back up, no big deal. "She did fall once in a competitions, then got back up and finished. She was glad for the experience!" says Hammond. 

Teach Coping Skills

Each time your child is afraid, give them tools they can use to overcome their fears. A child may be able to calm down by singing a song, hugging a stuffed animal, telling a joke, or declaring that monsters aren't real. Give your child the tools they need to face their fears and also reassure them you are always there to help them when they are afraid. 

Reward for Bravery

As you see your child overcome fears or at least make efforts to face the things that scare them, reward them for their bravery. Giving positive feedback and acknowledging their efforts will encourage your child to keep trying to confront the things that cause them fear and anxiety.

A parent's praise can really build a child's confidence so they are prepared to face a variety of challenges. 

As you work these steps with your child, continue to be patient and supportive. It is normal to have fears and it is appropriate to explain this to your child. As scary situations arise, encourage your child to share her feelings with you so that you can deal with them together.

 

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Sarah Lyon is a part-time freelance writer and stay-at-home mom to six children, including two-year-old triplets.

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Magic At Home with The Magic House

The Magic House is bringing innovative, hands-on learning to you at home with its #MagicAtHome series of interactive, instructional online presentations. The Magic At Home series of activities includes lots of fun projects that you can make at home with common materials. The easy-to-follow directions mean your kids can make paper sculpture, do shaving cream marble painting, create make-your-own flowers, go "fishin," make TP roll animals, make salad spin art and more.

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Science @ Home with the Saint Louis Science Center

The Science Louis Science Center is continuing to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning through its online Science @ Home series! Visit the Science Center's web site or social media channels for DIY science experiments that can be done at home, Amazing Science Demonstrations from the Science Center's Energy Stage team, connections to local scientists, astronomy updates from the McDonnell Planetarium, live chats and more. Content is designed for all ages. 

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Explore Purina Farms: Trainer Tips
Tuesday, June 2, 2020
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Purina Farms is bringing the best of the farm to your home every week! You can virtually explore Purina Farms through videos featuring the animals, dog trainers and others who work there, as well as the pets who work and play at Purina Farms every day. Each day of the week features videos on a variety of topics including animal connections, training tips and responsible pet care advice for kids. 

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Explore Purina Farms: Amazing Canines
Wednesday, June 3, 2020
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Purina Farms is bringing the best of the farm to your home every week! You can virtually explore Purina Farms through videos featuring the animals, dog trainers and others who work there, as well as the pets who work and play at Purina Farms every day. Each day of the week features videos on a variety of topics including animal connections, training tips and responsible pet care advice for kids. 

 

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