Zionsville Times Sentinel

July 24, 2013

Help children go from fear to anticipation

By Tess Worrell
For the Times Sentinel

---- — Sitting with a group of pre-teens and teenagers recently, someone asked the question, “What is your greatest fear?” To my surprise, the number one answer: “Change.”

Aren’t young people supposed to look forward to change? Don’t they like living on the edge? As it turns out — not so much. Far more often than producing excitement or anticipation, change induces fear.

As back-to-school ads flood the mail, children realize they must soon face the new teacher, the new school, or even the new city. Other children are more occupied with changing family situations — a new baby sister, an older brother leaving for college, or a coming split in time between mom’s and dad’s houses. Children must learn to cope with change; parents can help.

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Without concrete information, people create their own versions of what will happen — usually the worst possible scenario. Children are no different. They want to know what is going on. Honest answers not only help them cope, they build trust and a team spirit within the family. Yet parents often hesitate because they wonder, “How much should I tell?”

Answer each child’s specific questions honestly and directly in an age-appropriate way. Don’t give in to the temptation to sugar coat a hard reality but do cast the truth in the most encouraging light. Once a child’s questions are answered, parents can also add the details that allow children to see what is coming and prepare — both in action and emotionally.

See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for the full story.