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Dealing with a child's fears

Little kids, little fear
         Rimah loves playing with water. Whenever kiddie pools or wading pools are available, it's difficult to get her out of the water. But the little girl is afraid of getting into the bathtub. At the mere mention of bath time, she will run off and hide. Rimah, it seems, is afraid of being sucked down the bathtub drain along with the water. No amount of logical talk from her parents can cast away this irrational fear.

         Max is a natural at bicycling. He enjoys riding his bicycle outside, except when there is a dog on the loose. As soon as he spots a dog, he drops his bicycle and runs screaming for home. He believes that dogs hate little kids and will attack at every available chance. Assuring him that dogs are usually benign does nothing to change his mind.

Nothing to be afraid of
         Around a child's second year, he or she may start developing certain fears. The child can become frightened by things that did not cause fear before. For example, the dark, the neighbour's dog, the bathtub drain and loud noises. Several factors conspire to a child developing fears by age 2. Children between the ages of 2 and 6 usually have experienced real fear or pain from being lost, injured, or bitten. They also have active imaginations and struggle with the idea of cause and effect. A toddler knows something about size and shape, but not sufficient enough to be certain that he won't be sucked down into the bathtub drain or into a flushing toilet. Older children also are aware of dangers that they hear about or watch on television. It's difficult for them to distinguish between what is real and what is not. To many adults, children's fears are totally baseless or unfounded. Nevertheless, to children, monsters lurking under the bed or scary noises coming from the shadows are very real indeed.

The first, the last, and none the least
         What do small children commonly fear? The following are the usual complaints: fear of loud noises, fear of baths, fear of the dark, fear of dogs or cats, fear of separation from parents, etc. One of the first fears a child could have is being separated from his parents, even temporarily. This anxiety about separation is an indication of growth. Before the toddler turns 2, he or she forgets the parents immediately after they depart. Now the child worries about and puzzles over the parents' absence.

         Fear of the dark is usually one of the last childhood fears to be conquered. Younger children fear monsters and snakes that hide in the bedroom shadows, or under their beds. Older children may fear burglars, intruders and thieves. It is not uncommon for children who are at ages 10 and 11 to still use a night light. This practice is not harmful at all. Children can sleep with lights on without damaging their health. Many children sleep with a night light well into their schooling years. At some point in time, children will decide on their own to turn the lights off, signaling their final triumph over childhood fears.

Learning bravery
         It's perfectly normal for children to experience fears while growing up, according to child psychiatrists. Luckily, most of them will outgrow these childhood fears over time, provided they receive the support that's needed from their parents. So, how do you help your child cope with his fears? Here are some pointers:
  • Realize that childhood fears only become a problem if they prevent children from going to school, playing outside or in general, carrying on with their lives. Otherwise, experiencing fears is a normal part of growing up and should not unduly raise alarms.
  • Work together with your child to find practical strategies that can ease his fears. For example, if he is afraid of the dark, installing a night light or providing him with a teddy bear might help.  
  • Tell your child that he is not the only one who have fears. Even adults have fears. Share your own fears with him. Tell him it's nothing wrong to be afraid. Teach him that the secret to managing fears is to come up with a plan for dealing with them. 
  • Do not push your child to overcome his fears. Encourage him, and let him work through his fears little by little at his own pace. It's crucial to let him proceed at his own comfort level at all times.  
  • Before you can help him, find out the real cause of his fears. For example, if your child says that he's afraid of going to school, what he may really be afraid of is dealing with the bully on the school bus. 
  • Do not belittle your child for his fears, even though they may seem ridiculous to you. His fears are very real to him. Instead, accept his fears for what they are. 
  • If your child's fears seem to be getting worse, instead of better, do not hesitate to get professional help. Consultations with a child psychiatrist or psychologist may finally resolve his problems. 


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Glossary of Terms :
(1) Tuition - Tutelage, the act of tutoring or teaching a student (pupil); Fees paid for instruction (especially for higher education). In Malaysia, tuition is more popularly used to denote tutoring rather than fee. Common Malaysian misspellings: Tiution, Tution. *(BM): Tuisyen, Tiusyen, Tusyen, Tuisen, Tiusen, Tuisyan, Tiusyan, Tusyan. | (2) Home Tuition - Tutoring that takes place at students' or tutors' home as opposed to at tuition centers; Also: Home Tutoring, Private Tuition, Private Tutoring. *(BM): Tuisyen Di Rumah, Tuisyen Swasta. | (3) Personal Tuition - Tutoring on the basis of one tutor catering to one student. Also: Personal Tutoring, Individual Tuition, Individual Tutoring, One-to-one Tuition, 1-to-1 Tutoring, One-to-one Tutoring, 1-to-1 Tuition. *(BM): Tuisyen Peribadi, Tuisyen Persendirian, Tuisyen Perseorangan, Tuisyen Individu. | (4) Group Tuition - Tutoring on the basis of one tutor catering to several (small number, but more than one) students. Also: Small Group Tuition, Small Class Tuition, Group Tutoring, Small Group Tutoring, Small Class Tutoring. *(BM): Tuisyen Berkumpulan, Tuisyen Kumpulan Kecil, Tuisyen Kelas Kecil. | (5) Tutors - Tuition Teachers, persons who conduct tuition. In Malaysia, teacher is more popularly used to denote a school teacher whereas tutor usually means a non-school teacher. Also: Tiutors, Tuitors. *(BM): Guru Sekolah, Cikgu Sekolah, Pengajar Tuisyen, Guru Tuisyen, Cikgu Tuisyen. | (6) Home Tutors - Tutors who provide home tuition as opposed to those who teach at tuition centres. Also: Private Tutors, Personal Tutors, Individual Tutors, One-to-one Tutors, 1-to-1 Tutors, Group Tutors, Small Group Tutors, Private Teachers, Personal Teachers, Individual Teachers, One-to-one Teachers, 1-to-1 Teachers, Group Teachers, Small Group Teachers, Private Tuition Teachers, Personal Tuition Teachers, Individual Tuition Teachers, One-to-one Tuition Teachers, 1-to-1 Tuition Teachers, Group Tuition Teachers, Small Group Tuition Teachers. *(BM): Pengajar Di Rumah, Pengajar Swasta, Pengajar Peribadi, Pengajar Persendirian, Pengajar Perseorangan, Guru Di Rumah, Guru Swasta, Guru Peribadi, Guru Persendirian, Guru Perseorangan, Cikgu Di Rumah, Cikgu Swasta, Cikgu Peribadi, Cikgu Persendirian, Cikgu Perseorangan. | (7) Tuition Centers - Private institutions that conduct tuition on classroom-like settings. Also: Tuition Centres, Tutorial Centers, Tutorial Centres, Tuition Classes, Tutorial Classes, Tutoring Classes. *(BM): Pusat Tuisyen, Pusat Bimbingan, Pusat Tutorial, Kelas Tuisyen. | (8) Home Tuition Jobs - Home tuition vacancies; Posts to be filled by home tutors. Also: Private Tuition Jobs, Home Tutoring Jobs, Private Tutoring Jobs, Home Tuition Assignments, Private Tuition Assignments, Home Tutoring Assignments, Private Tutoring Assignments, Private Tuition Vacancies, Home Tutoring Vacancies, Private Tutoring Vacancies. *(BM): Jawatan Kosong Tuisyen, Pekerjaan Tuisyen, Kerja Tuisyen, Tugasan Tuisyen. | (9) Home Tutees - Home tuition students; Pupils receiving home tuition from home tutors. *(BM): Pelajar Tuisyen, Murid Tuisyen, Penuntut Tuisyen. | *(BM) denotes terms in Bahasa Melayu or Malay Language.