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Making Wind Fun For Fearful Child: Sylvia Rimm on Raising Kids

By Sylvia Rimm

Q. We have a 6-year-old son who developed a fear of wind two years ago, after being caught in a sudden, intense storm while driving on the freeway. We thought it disappeared, but it has recently returned. We've told him that it's OK to be afraid of storms, but just because the leaves are moving is not a reason to be fearful. It's affecting his daily life (and ours!). It was one thing when he was 4, but now, at 6, he should be able to cope differently.

Other children can distract him sometimes, but it's a chore to get him out the door. He was playing t-ball, but now doesn't want to go to the field because of the "wind." We try to acknowledge the fear and accept it while making him face it, but that creates such a struggle and seems to make him more agitated. I'm curious about how we should be handling this -- how much we should force him to do, what we should be saying, whether he and we need counseling.

A. You may be too accepting about his irrational fear. While you can accept his reasonable fear about windstorms, there are too many pleasurable opportunities during breezy days for him to sulk. Don't accept these fears. He certainly should continue his t-ball unless there's a storm. You might introduce him to kite flying, which only works on breezy days. There are some wonderfully interesting kites that might entice him. Perhaps he can watch you from the window first, and when he sees how much fun you're having, he'll join you.

Some good analogies you could share with him are to compare playing outside in light rain to staying indoors during a thunderstorm, or sledding when it's snowing lightly compared to staying indoors during a blizzard.

You'll want to discontinue too much talk about the issue within his hearing when you're describing his problem to other adults. The more he hears about it, the more he'll worry. If he handles slight wind most of the time and only worries once in a while, it will probably disappear, but if his fear becomes greater as time goes on, a psychologist could help you with the problem.


Q. I have a 5-year-old daughter who very frequently tells me of a child in her class who's a bully. Recently she told me that whenever the child is bullying another child, she tries to be a friend to the "bully." My concern is that her fear of the bully will make her want to be friends with her, and then she could be manipulated by this child into bullying others. How can I be of help to her in this situation?

A. You may be correct, but there's still much hope for 5-year-old bullies. She can learn to be kind with the help of a good friend. You may wish to explain to your daughter that she can stay friends with this girl only if they're nice to others, but if they're mean to others, you'll have to break up their friendship. Hopefully, she'll be a good influence on her new friend.

Dr. Sylvia B. Rimm is the director of the Family Achievement Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, a clinical professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the author of many books on parenting. More information on raising kids is available at www.sylviarimm.com.

Categories: Pre-Schoolers, Children,

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