Tag Archives: fear

HANDLING HOW TO’S

 In many aspects of our lives, we’re looking for answers from gurus, consultants, teachers, mentors and even self-help books.

‘How to talk to your teenager’

‘How to help your child cope with exams and stress’

‘How to increase the level of engagement of employees’

‘How to get 6-pack abs in 3 months’

Sounds familiar? Well, I’m now going through a particular ‘How to’ phase as well. It’s how to help my preschooler overcome her fears and anxiety, and manage her emotions. Last year, for her school concert performance, her teachers put her at the front center of her class because she was a good dancer and so she could also lead the class in the dance steps. She got so stressed because of it that she didn’t want to go to school during that period. On another occasion, she got stung by a wasp-like insect and for months she would freak out at the sight of any insect.

Over the long weekend, for the very first time in our lives, we got stopped by a traffic police because we had squeezed in a few additional friends in the car. As my husband stepped out to explain our situation, my daughter got really frightened and asked if he was going to put us in jail. You could see that she was really worried and afraid. I hope she doesn’t develop a fear of the police. On the other hand, my son was trying to get the policeman’s attention by making funny faces at him and shouting through the glass window, “I surrender! I surrender!”

I’ve been learning a lot from the resources and workshops from Focus on the Family Singapore; and so it’s great that I can apply the learning immediately. When addressing fears and emotions, what not to say is “You have to be brave.” “There’s nothing to be scared of.” (This is what the Hubs says to me about lizards and I can testify that it does not help). “It’s because you watched that TV show. I told you not to watch it.” Such words do not help comfort the child nor help her overcome the fear.

Instead, we should:

  1. Let her know it’s ok to be afraid
  2. Help her understand being afraid is temporary
  3. Let her know it’s ok to talk about her fear and help her to verbalize her fear and emotions with words
  4. Let her know it is also normal not to be afraid.
  5. Help her learn a new response or behavior to replace her fear response. The use of imagination is one way.

My friend in the car demonstrated these tips very well. She explained that policemen were there to keep us safe and look out for us. She then helped my daughter observe and interpret the situation in a humorous way by asking the following questions to explain that the policeman was not angry.

“Is his face turning red?” “No”

“Is steam coming out from his ears?” “No”

“Is his helmet flying off from his head?” “No”

With each question, it helped her read the situation and in place of fear, she even managed a smile and giggle.

PS: For more self-help books, don’t miss the FOTFS Christmas 20% Storewide Book Sale which happens only once a year! Free Delivery. Log onto www.family.org.sg for more details.

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Attacked!

We’d arrived home in the late afternoon. The monkeys were seated at the old stone table in the grass patch just below our block. The baby monkey spotted us as we emerged from the car park, jumped down from the table and started towards us. With both arms laden with bags, I grabbed my son’s hand and prompted him to walk faster. But the monkey ran after us. My son panicked. I turned around to try to shoo the monkey away and dropped a couple of my bags in the process. The baby monkey was undeterred and continued its approach – playfully, or so I thought. It came at us just as I reached down to pick up my bags. I swung the bags at the monkey while yelling at it. My son screamed. Now the adult monkey was leaping towards us as well…

It so happened that renovations were taking place in my apartment block and they had cordoned off the pathway to the void deck. There was no way we could make our way through or around the blockade before the monkeys would get to us. There was only one route out – to run up the stairs to the upper deck of the car park.

We somehow made it up in time. When we stopped and turned around, the adult monkey showed its teeth and growled at us. We both screamed. There was no way back down – the adult monkey was sitting right at the top of the stairs. My son started crying as we both backed further away.

My 2nd-floor neighbour was now shouting at us from her open window. “The bags! The monkeys are after your bags. They think it’s food.” It was – but not for them!!!

I led my son down an alternative staircase to the lowest deck of the car park and made a detour to the other end of our apartment block, where we waited and watched.

“What are we going to do, Mama?” My son wailed. “How are we going to get home?”

I knelt down and took his bags from him, including the bag he had helped carry which contained my day’s prized purchase – a box of gourmet cupcakes. They had been tossed around in the turmoil and cream was oozing out of the box onto the plastic bag. I opened the box and when my son saw all the cupcakes overturned and smashed into a huge mess, he started to sob uncontrollably.

Dropping all the bags on the floor, I cradled him in my arms while trying to console him.

Then I saw a man – “He must be one of our neighbours,” I thought. (Several days later, we would learn that he had been mobilized by our 2nd-floor neighbour who’d heard our screams.) From a distance, we could see him chasing the monkeys back into the forest with two long sticks. We waited a while more, then I said, “It’s okay now. We can walk back this way to the lift.”

“Are you sure, Mama?”

“Don’t worry, the man’s chased the monkeys away. Stay close to me; I’ll protect you.” (Right, I couldn’t just now.)

 I grabbed the bags and we managed to reach the lift safely. When we finally got into the house, I put down the bags and commented, “We’re safe now.”

“Are you sure, Mama?” A second time.

“Yes. The monkeys can’t get in. See, all our windows are closed.”

 As I made my way to the kitchen, my son came running up to me to alert me that the bathroom windows were still open. “It’s okay; they can’t come in through those. And the man has chased them away.”

 “Are you sure, Mama?” A third time. Then he burst into tears again.

I picked him up and carried him to the sofa where we sat for a good 5 minutes with him on my lap and my arms tightly wrapped around him.

“How are we going to pick Daddy later?”

“Don’t worry, the monkeys are gone. We can check from our window. And just in case, we’ll take some sticks with us as well.”

I was so mad at the monkeys. Firstly for terrorizing my son – and me. Secondly for destroying my perfectly beautiful (and expensive) cupcakes. What made me even angrier was a sudden recollection of some people we had seen at Pierce Reservoir feeding the monkeys – right under the sign that said NOT to. Then, we had just watched in disbelief. But now I know what I’d do the next time I witness such foolishness.

“Thank God we’re safe.” It is at such times that I am grateful for neighbours that some might call a “busybody”.

“God protected us, right, Mama? He sent the man with the sticks.”

 “Yes, He did.” Indeed.

Twenty minutes later, armed with a couple of bamboo poles each, we left the house to pick my husband. The monkeys were nowhere to be seen. And my son was already pretending to be a kungfu fighter with his poles. Thank God for the short memories children have, and for the short accounts they keep.

There are always many teachable moments to be drawn from an “adventure” like that, traumatic as it may have been. But the moment I cherish most that overrides the fear from the whole experience is my son’s assurance in the protection love brings.*

 

Note from Editor- *Love also protects in marriage! Renowned marriage experts, Dr. Gary & Barb Rosberg, will coach couples on Guarding Love – to put up proper guards in marriage that will provide protection from threats to the marriage, such as the allure of status and stuff, and help spouses feel safe and secure. Find out more at The Great Marriage Experience on Sat, Sep 3. (Click for more details)