Today I had to deal with one of the worst things a parent can see their child go through; fear.
Dinky had an ophthalmology appointment today and although this isn’t the first time he has been to have his eyes checked, he was not happy during the whole car journey there. My Dad took us, and normally when he’s around all he can do is talk and blabber on about nothing. But today he was silent, with the odd sigh and whimper. He told us that he was bored, so we kept chatting to him to keep him occupied.
Fast forward thirty minutes into the car journey and he lets out an almighty cry, followed by projectile vomiting and hyperventilating. Luckily we were close to the hospital so we parked up and cleaned everything up. I took Dinky into the ophthalmology department to get him checked in and that’s when he confessed that he was frightened about his appointment.
Now, I could have gone about this statement in one of two ways:
Shrug off his fear and take him in knowing there’s nothing to be frightened of
Let him explain why he was frightened and then comfort his fears and encourage him that Mummy is with him and that I wouldn’t let anything happen to him
I, of course, opted for the second option. Just because I knew that he would be absolutely fine, it doesn’t mean that the fear in his head was irrelevant or untrue. He felt scared and the last thing he needed was for his fear to be shrugged off or dismissed.
When I’m feeling anxious, nobody can understand why. Not even me and that can be so frustrating for all parties involved. I can honestly say I appreciate the company of someone who doesn’t dismiss me much more than someone saying “you’ll be fine.”
This made me think about how we sometimes treat children and their fears. Why should their fears be dismissed? They are feeling scared and what they need is someone to explain things to them not just saying “oh stop being silly.”
The next time your child reacts to something unusual compared to normal, consider the fact that they might be frightened. Take the time to listen to their fears and let them know that it’s okay to feel that way sometimes, but you will be there through everything. For example, if they are scared of a monster under the bed, empathise with them, show them nothing is there and also let them know that if they need you, you will be straight in to make everything better.
Every child is different, but today really opened my eyes with Dinky and his fears. I know how he feels because I’ve felt like that before, and even though everyone told me I’d be fine, it would have been nice if I had the chance to explain why I felt so scared.