Monsters Under The Bed And Other Childhood Fears: Helping Your Child Overcome Anxieties, Fears, And Phobias by Stephen W. GarberMonsters Under The Bed And Other Childhood Fears: Helping Your Child Overcome Anxieties, Fears, And Phobias by Stephen W. Garber

Monsters Under The Bed And Other Childhood Fears: Helping Your Child Overcome Anxieties, Fears, And…

byStephen W. Garber, Robyn Freedman Spizman, Marianne Daniels Garber

Paperback | May 11, 1993

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A step-by-step manual designed to help parents cope with children's fears; this book discusses common fears, how to respond to childhood anxieties, and other ways to deal with frightened children.


From the Hardcover edition.
Robyn Freedman Spizman is the author and coauthor of numerous parenting, educational, and how-to books. A motivational speaker, she has lectured to thousands about balancing family and work and getting organized. She has appeared on radio and television, including the Today show, CNN's Parenting Today, the Discovery Channel, CNBC, and ...
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Title:Monsters Under The Bed And Other Childhood Fears: Helping Your Child Overcome Anxieties, Fears, And…Format:PaperbackPublished:May 11, 1993Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0812992229

ISBN - 13:9780812992229

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1 UNDERSTANDING AND RESPONDING TO YOUR CHILD’S FEAR   What childhood fears are normal? Why do some fears come and go? What’s the best way to respond to your child’s fears?   When your child is scared all he wants to do is get away from the situation. He doesn’t know why his heart is pounding or his legs feel so funny; he just knows he doesn’t like the sensations. He certainly doesn’t realize that the more he avoids his fear, the more it’s likely to grow.   The better you understand childhood fears, the better prepared you’ll be to respond to your child when he’s frightened.   Understanding Childhood Fear   1. Childhood is a time of many fears. Numerous research studies have found that between the ages of two and six children have more than four fears, while between the ages of six and twelve they experience an average of seven different fears. It’s fair to say that your child is as likely as any other youngster to be frightened by animals, scared of heights, and terrified of separating from you. If you’re buying your three-year-old a night light, you are not alone. And if your child hates it when you leave him with even the best baby-sitter in town, other parents can commiserate. Your son might have as many fears as your daughter, but he won’t admit it publicly—the research commonly concludes that girls have more fears than boys. Very early in life boys appear to be subject to male stereotyping and reluctant to admit they are less than macho. Boys may have more fears about their future, reflecting increased performance pressures that society may place on males, but as roles in society change, girls, too, may feel increased performance anxiety.   The hopeful news is you can expect your child’s fears to decrease with age. Researchers have found that although children experience a number of significant fears during childhood, the number of children reporting fears decreases by age eleven. Be prepared, though, for fear to raise its head again in preadolescence. Studies indicate that the number of fears reported spikes for preteens and then decreases in adolescence. However, don’t assume that adolescents don’t have fears. Fears of personal safety and imaginary creatures might decrease, but school and social fears can intensify. Teens are especially traumatized by any type of public embarrassment. Also, adolescents who suppressed childhood fears may suddenly manifest anxiety under stress or when confronted with a new situation. A long-hidden fear of heights may show up on a trip to an amusement park or even at the neighborhood swimming pool. So don’t presume that your nonchalant teenager is necessarily fear-free no matter how confident he seems.   2. Most fears are developmental. Fears of falling and loud noises are the only fears children have at birth. The emergence of other common fears parallels a child’s increasing awareness of the world around him. Parents often comment on how freely infants can be passed from one set of arms to another. Before the age of five or six months, your baby is likely to coo and smile at almost any face that is twelve to twenty inches in front of her. Once she learns to recognize familiar faces, she may develop a fear of strangers.   Early childhood fears center on your child’s environment. That’s the world he knows. Fears during this period include misgivings about animals, the weather, and strange objects such as vacuum cleaners, machines, fire engines, and trucks. As a youngster gains more knowledge and understanding of real-world phenomena, a growing imagination takes over. Fears of the dark, ghosts, monsters, and the supernatural come to the forefront and can be stimulated by what your child sees on television or a few gory ghost stories told by an older sibling or friend.   Exposure to real-world dangers also intensifies fears. Recent studies of inner-city youth indicate they have a large incidence of fears of specific events in their environment, such as crime and shootings. Other children who do not live in high crime areas can also develop these fears when they hear about the terrible things that happen in our world today.   Looking over the list that follows, you can see that some fears come and go, only to reappear later. Your child might be afraid of the dark at two, fearless at three, and scared again at four years of age. Other fears don’t simply reappear; they change form. A young child’s fear of the dark might become a fear of burglars when he is older.   Over the years, as your child’s world broadens, so do his fears. Whereas before, his fears centered on home and family, in preadolescence, your child is likely to worry about what others think. Fears of school and other social situations take precedence. Along with fears about her future, what her friends think will plague your youngster through the teen years.   CHILDHOOD FEARS   0–6 months     Loss of support, loud noises; 7–12 months   Fear of strangers, fear of sudden, unexpected, and looming objects; 1 year  Separation from parent, toilet, injury, strangers; 2 years A multitude of fears, including loud noises (vacuum cleaners, sirens/alarms, trucks, and thunder), animals (e.g., large dogs), the dark, separation from parent, large objects/machines, change in personal environment; 3 years Masks, dark, animals, separation from parent; 4 years Separation from parent, animals, dark, noises (including at night); 5 years Animals, “bad” people, dark, separation from parent, bodily harm; 6 years Supernatural beings, (e.g., ghosts, witches, “Darth Vader”), bodily injuries, thunder and lightning, dark, sleeping or staying alone, separation from parent; 7–8 years        Supernatural beings, dark, fears based on media events, staying alone, bodily injury; 9–12 years      Tests and examinations in school, school performance, bodily injury, physical appearance, thunder and lightning, death, dark (low percentage). Sources: Ilg and Ames, 1955; Jerslid and Homes, 1935a; Kellerman, 1981, Lapouse and Monk, 1959; Scarr and Salaptek, 1970; in Morris and Kratochwill, 1983.   3. Some children are more prone than others to have fears. Kelly is a lively, independent eight-year-old who has a keen sense of humor. She has many friends, and adults always comment on how confident she is. Many people who think they know Kelly, would be surprised to learn that she has many fears. She cannot watch a scary movie or hear a violent news story without it influencing her dreams—or nightmares. Her parents routinely monitor what she watches; her imagination is vivid and she must be frequently reassured about the noises she hears in the night. To make things worse, Kelly’s six-year-old sister isn’t bothered by anything she sees or hears. In fact, she doesn’t seem to have any significant fears. Even though these two girls share the same parents and environment, they are very different.   This example of two sisters illustrates how personality characteristics greatly contribute to a child’s tendency to be fearful. Psychologists and others who study children frequently note how differently children respond to traumatic events. One child who hears the sounds of a distant battle can be terrorized for years. Another who spent many nights in a bomb shelter may come out with few if any fears. Some children appear to be more conditionable than others. While psychologists have not identified all the contributing factors; shy, sensitive, inhibited children seem to be more prone to develop a variety of fears; as do children, like Kelly, who are very impressionable or who have very strong imaginations. A person who is nervous and worries a lot is likely to develop more fears than someone who is calm.   If your child’s personality fits one of these patterns, he may develop one fear after another. He may also be more likely to have a fear that lasts. You will, therefore, have to work doubly hard to help your child overcome particular fears and learn how to relax.   4. Unconfronted fears can last. Although many fears will disappear as quickly as they came, some persist and become ingrained. Fears that continue beyond the usual age that most of your child’s peers have overcome them are likely to grow in strength if they are not confronted. Ask any one of the twenty-five million adults in this country who won’t fly on airplanes if his fear has lessened because he hasn’t been on a plane. What about the people who are afraid of snakes? Are they less frightened of snakes because they never see one? Probably not. Nor would a fear of elevators lessen if you always took the stairs.   Fears that are not confronted not only last, they can also spread. Your child might begin with a fear of slides. That’s not too bad if it stops there. How many slides will she have to slide down as a teen or adult? How difficult will it be to avoid a slide? The problem is that your child’s fear of slides can spread to other heights. If she is too frightened to climb the ladder on a slide, it is likely she will have trouble climbing other ladders, or even playing on a jungle gym. Eventually she might have trouble climbing open staircases. The same fear might lead to a fear of riding in an open elevator, walking across a bridge, or standing near a window in a skyscraper. Fears that spread are hard to avoid.   Sometimes a fear seems so mild, you might wonder why it is necessary to intervene. Even though a child is not avoiding the situation, he might suffer silently. On the other hand, your child might have a fear that he doesn’t have to contend with very often, such as a fear of airplanes. Unless your family frequently travels by air, your child may only deal with his fear once a year—if that often. Of course, that’s now. What about later, when his fear of planes hasn’t gone away?   Other children might endure periods of intense fear followed by periods of time when a fear subsides. Unfortunately, that doesn’t automatically mean it has disappeared. It, too, might be incubating only to show up later in life. Many adult fears began in childhood. Unconfronted, the fears temporarily go undercover. Sam came to the clinic because of a fear of cats that began when he was a young boy. His family was kind and understanding, so they helped him avoid cats. When children who had pet cats invited him to play, he gave an excuse. If the family was taking a walk and saw a cat approaching, everyone crossed the street to help Sam escape the feline. Actually, the young man thought his fear faded during his college years. He didn’t run into many cats on campus. Out of school, he bought a small house and built a nice deck on the back. Everything was great until a nice lady who bred Siamese kittens moved in next door. Suddenly, Sam was faced with a next-door neighbor who had a backyard full of kittens. Gripped by panic, he never used the deck again and eventually sold his house.   Obviously, Sam’s fear had not disappeared. There are hundreds of other cases of adults whose fears began in childhood and later disrupted their adult lives. When psychologists began to study fears like these, a pattern emerged. Fears of animals, weather, accidents, heights, enclosures, the dark, doctors, and medical procedures often begin in childhood. Fears of transportation, public speaking, meeting people, and other social fears frequently have their birth in adolescence. Of course, there are exceptions. A very shy child might develop a fear of speaking in public long before adolescence. A teenager who was never afraid of shots as a child might have a serious illness that leaves her scared of blood and needles.