Why is the child afraid of other children
Most often, fear of other children occurs between the ages of 20 months and five years and can manifest itself both in the form of shyness and timidity, and in panic forms – tantrums, attempts to run away and hide, aggression.
Over time, the child learns to cope with anxiety and adapts to peer society, but sometimes this does not happen. Persistent fear of other children can have various causes:
- Negative communication experience. For example, if another child hit hard, scared, took away his favorite toy, and parents or other adults did not help to cope with the situation – they did not support him emotionally, did not console him.
- Manipulation and receiving benefits. This can happen if the child receives some indulgence in response to signs of anxiety. For example, he is allowed not to go to kindergarten, but to stay at home with his mother in a familiar and comfortable environment. Or trying to find an individual approach at school.
- Lack of experience. The child was brought up in the circle of parents and their friends, spent time on the playground with adults and was not used to communicating with peers.
- The arrival of a new family member. An older child may experience jealousy and aggression, subconsciously consider the baby bad and scary, because he took away the attention of his mother. At the same time, he can treat his brother or sister well, and transfer negativity to children outside the family – beware of them, resist communication.
At the same time, some children are more prone to fear and embarrassment. There may be several reasons.
What determines whether a child will be afraid of other children or not
There are two aspects that can influence the appearance of such fear – the temperament of the child and the characteristics of his upbringing.
Often problems with communication connected with behavioral inhibition (BE) – a special type of temperament in which the child is overly excited in response to unusual stimuli, afraid of unfamiliar and complex objects, people and situations.
It is believed that this feature can be at least partially explained by the low threshold of stimulation of the amygdala, a brain structure that is responsible for the feeling of fear and the fight-or-flight response.
Behavioral retardation in infancy increases the risk of developing anxious loneliness and withdrawal in early and middle childhood.
Children with this problem often watching behind the games of others, but do not take part in them. They are shy and indecisive, which is why they have problems with communication – they hold themselves back because they are afraid of being rejected or seen as unworthy.
However, neither behavioral inhibition nor disturbing loneliness put an end to socialization. A lot depends on how the parents behave.
Features of education
Several experiments at once confirmed that the influence of the mother largely determines the social alertness of the child.
For example, in one research found that four-year-olds whose mothers made snarky comments about their children or controlled them too much were much more reserved with their peers.
The harm of overprotection noted and other scientific work. Toddlers whose mothers were overly controlling but unresponsive to the child’s desires and emotions were the most socially repressed.
In the first year of life, the basic trust of the child is formed. If you regularly lash out at him, strictly forbid something and control every action, the baby can be convinced that he is always wrong. Often this occurs in an overprotective family where one or both parents are raised through constant inhibitions. In this case, the child may begin to close himself from society and try to spend as much time as possible with his parents.
What not to do if the child is afraid of other children
First of all, you can not turn a blind eye to the problem. Valeria Chechelnitskaya says that unconquered fear can negatively affect further development, interfere with learning, make a child an outcast, a victim of bullying or their instigator.
The lack of help from parents can end up with him withdrawing into himself, stopping talking about his problems, being content with the on-duty phrase: “I’m fine.”
At the same time, do not indulge the weaknesses of the child. Such concern is just another form of avoiding responsibility.
You can not go on about the children’s fear. For example, if a child is afraid to go to kindergarten or the playground, parents may consider him too sensitive and “special”. In this way, they will preserve his self-respect, but at the same time they will not give him a chance to try a little, overcome fear and enjoy socializing with other children.
Over time, the child will get used to being “special” and, instead of overcoming discomfort and adjusting to reality, will be stuck in painful loneliness.
Ksenia Nesyutina says that this state of affairs can lead to big problems in adult life. Since people are social beings, one part of the personality will always strive for communication, while the other will forbid it because of the habitual opinion of itself. This threatens the development of neurosis.
Lack of communication can also negatively impact your ability to express yourself. Assimilated from childhood, the fear and conviction of one’s inferiority can prevent a person from realizing his talents and maintaining mental health.
How to help your child overcome fear of other children
In the fight against fear, it is important to apply an integrated approach. Below we list some good ways to help your child overcome blocks and begin to communicate.
Give him a chance to adapt
First of all, make sure that the child has the opportunity to adapt to communication with peers. Take him to the playground and watch others with him.
Describe what they are doing, express curiosity, offer to join. If your child gets scared, reassure him that he is completely safe and you will stay with him for as long as he needs.
Try dating parents who have children around the same age as yours. Sooner or later, the child will get used to them, feel safe and begin to communicate. It is best if the meetings take place in a familiar setting, such as your home or yard.
Alternatively, introduce your child to older or younger children. Some feel more comfortable with kids, others like to communicate with older comrades. Again, it’s best if the meetings take place in familiar surroundings.
Work on emotions with games
Valeria Chechelnitskaya says that the sooner a child learns to understand his emotions, the easier it will be for him to cope with fear.
You can invite the child to pick up a toy and ask: “When he communicates with others, is he scared? Does he shrink? Maybe someone offends him? Let’s think about how to help him!
Also, examples with fairy-tale characters help children well. Try to come up with a story about a kid who is afraid of something, and together with the child come up with how the hero can cope with fear. Perhaps he will have a protective sword, a good fairy will fly in, or some kind of superpower will be revealed.
Discuss and talk
It is very important to listen to children, to show sensitivity and attention. Talk to your child, ask if he likes to play with others, if he is offended in the team, with whom he is friends, with whom he quarrels.
Do not consider children’s problems and emotions insignificant. If a child cries because he quarreled with a friend, do not dismiss the problem in the style: “Oh, make peace a hundred times again!”. Remember how you yourself once felt bad after a serious quarrel, and find words of support and comfort.
A sensitive attitude towards a child increases his chances to overcome fear and adapt among peers. Yes, in one experiment followed socially anxious children from 2 to 4.5 years. Those whose mothers were distinguished by sensitivity – the ability to perceive and understand the signals of their child and respond appropriately to them – the children had more friends and were less likely to be rejected by their peers.
Work on yourself and family relationships
For the development of a child’s social skills, it is important not only the attitude towards him, but also how other family members communicate with each other.
It is important that parents support not only the child, but also each other. Children are good at reading aggression, caustic comments, isolation and broadcast in communication with others.
In one scientific work notedthat children’s communication problems may be related to the mother’s neuroticism—low self-esteem, anxiety, and an inability to regulate negative emotions.
The child copies the parents’ fear of novelty, and because of overprotection, he cannot develop important communication skills, overcome stressful social situations and gain valuable experience.
Therefore, in addition to direct assistance to the child, parents should also pay attention to their condition.
Seek help from a specialist
Ksenia Nesyutina says that it is important to distinguish between ordinary constraint and a preneurotic state. The symptoms of the latter include excessive maladaptive behavior that prevents the child from socializing and lasts more than six months.
In other words, if in an unusual environment the child becomes shy, hides behind his mother and wants to leave, this is normal. Depending on the nature and upbringing, adaptation may take a couple of hours or require several days. But if the baby still gets used to people and gradually begins to behave more confidently, there is nothing to worry about.
If, however, the behavior does not change over time – for example, the child has been going to kindergarten for several weeks or months, but continues to throw tantrums, hide under furniture, sob or show aggression – it is worth consulting with a psychologist.
Fear is a defensive reaction. Children do not pretend to be scared, they are really afraid, but what exactly is the question. The psychologist helps to understand what the child is protecting himself from, what makes him turn on fear in reality.
By finding out the real reasons, you can help your child to socialize and reduce the risk of mental disorders and communication problems in the future.