fear: 2 Articles

Creating the Find Out Files My Fears: Interview With the Author

Magination Press’s new series of activity books, The Find Out Files, help kids explore emotions and relationships. Magination Press interviewed author and parenting expert, Isabelle Filliozat, about creating My Fears, one of the books in The Find Out Files. Magination Press: You chose a meerkat as the animal guide for My Fears. Why is a meerkat well-suited to the topic of fear? Isabelle Filliozat: Meerkats are called the sentinels of the desert. They have this behavior of looking around and paying attention to any movement, this quick reaction. That’s why I choose them to illustrate the “protection from danger” system. Fear being the primary emotion of that system. MP:  You explain how fear is a physical reaction that protects us from danger, and so sometimes fear is a good thing. Why is it important for people to learn to tell the difference between real dangers and perceived ones? IF:  If it is a real danger, fear is useful. It can save us. Fear helps us perceive danger, see a movement, identify a threat. It gives us the energy to step aside, run, escape. But if it is not a real danger, there’s no use to stress our body like that ! Shivering in front of a mouse, or a dead rat, panicking on a plane or choking in an elevator doesn’t bring us any positive benefit. But all those irrational fears come from our story and if we listen to them, and analyse their roots, they help us cure our inner-self. MP: How did you decide which common fears (swimming, monsters/nightmares, or meeting new people) to feature in the book?  IF:  I wanted to feature a physical fear, a mental fear, and a social fear. Then you have tools for about any fear.  MP:  Sometimes, when people are afraid, they get angry. Why is that? IF:  Because it is the same structure in the brain that sends the order for  fear or anger: the amygdala. Both emotions ensure protection. When there is a threat, the amygdala triggers the stress reaction. Depending on the circumstances, we have three possibilities: fight, flight, freeze. So facing a danger, someone may display a fighting behavior.  Also, if you were taught as a child that you shouldn’t be afraid, that boys don’t fear, you fear your fears! You don’t want to surrender to fear, don’t want to be seen as a coward… so you display aggressive behavior. Or if you were beaten or harshly scolded when you were afraid, then feeling fear is so stressful, so you attack! Some people like scary movies or books. Why do you think that is? Some people like taking physical risks, to climb cliffs, to drive their motorcycle fast, to jump from high bridges, to surf big waves. Stress, fear—it’s adrenaline. It’s sensations. It’s excitement. It’s feeling alive! But we don’t all dare take risks! Almost all of us like suspense in movies or books, we identify with the characters, we feel sensations, quiver, thrill, our heart beats

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Creating the Find Out Files My Fears: Interview With the Author 2020-09-08T22:58:53-04:00

Helping Children Find Their Light in Dark and Scary Times

Fear can be debilitating for children, especially when it arises from a situation such as parental illness or another major change that increases their vulnerability. The COVID-19 pandemic has created this situation for many families and children.  In her note to parents and caregivers, Ani’s Light author, Dr. Tanu Shree Singh provides guidance about supporting a child through difficult situations with empathy, caring, and honesty. Honest matters. Our first instinct in a difficult situation might be to protect our child by keeping the truth from them or creating tall tales.Though we assume they won’t  understand, hiding the truth rarely helps. Children have a built-in lie detector, so it’s best not to lie to your child or hide basic information. Whatever the situation, share information in age-appropriate words. There are many books that deal with all sorts of difficult topics, including illness, loss, divorce, and more. These can be a great starting point for conversation. It is ok not to know the answers. Some questions have no clear answers, but don’t avoid them. It is okay to not know, and even better to address and accept the uncertainty together. As a parent, sometimes we overwhelm ourselves with the need to give factual answers. However, questions around death and uncertainty might have no clear answers. To accept that with your child is to take a step closer to healing. Help your child deal with their emotions. Acceptance of emotions is an important part of healing and promoting resilience. Let your child know all emotions are acceptable. It is also essential for them to know that bad things can happen in life and it is no one’s fault. Learning to cope and manage our feelings is what makes the difference.  Routines are important. Routines give a sense of security to a child. A consistent schedule and familiar faces create a sense of normalcy. Stick to regular patterns, from bedtime to school routines, as much as you can. Everyone is creating new daily routines during the pandemic. Do what works for your family. Plan for fun. Children need a break. Sometimes we get so caught up in managing problems that we forget that children need doses of fun. Try to schedule some fun time together. Seek help. Life gets overwhelming when illness or huge changes are taking up all our time and energy. In such situations, such as those created by the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to be vigilant and seek professional help as needed.  Ultimately, the heart and mind have an enormous capacity to heal. All we can do as a parent is to be there and help our children learn to see love, grow resilience, and be reassured that letting the light in can help them through dark times. To find a therapist near you, use the APA Psychologist Locator.

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Helping Children Find Their Light in Dark and Scary Times 2020-05-06T11:42:08-04:00