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Children with fear of cheating: why does it happen to them and how to help them?

Fear is one of the many emotions that we all experience throughout our lives.

It is important to understand that fear is not bad in itself , in fact it can be highly adaptive, teaching us to be cautious when facing new and potentially dangerous situations.

However, we must be aware when fear paralyzes us, is excessively irrational or interferes with our lives, because then it is no longer an adaptive fear.

In this article we talk about a type of fear in children: the fear of disappointing. Why does it happen and how can we help the little ones, as parents, in this task…?

“Fear is natural in the prudent, and knowing how to overcome it is being brave.”

-Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga-

Why are children afraid?

Children may experience fear when faced with certain situations where they do not know what is going to happen and/or where they have no control over what is happening.

Fear varies depending on the stage of the life cycle in which they are.

We can notice how young babies can feel fear of unknown people, or fear of being separated from their mother , father or care figure. As children grow, fears evolve and this is how we enter the stage of fears of unreal things.

Around the age of four, up to six (approximately), children begin to be afraid of things that don’t exist, like monsters under the bed or in the closet.

It is not until after seven years (in most cases) when the fear of defrauding others can be present.

Causes of fear of disappointment

When this fear of cheating appears, the causes can be diverse. Among them we highlight:

  • Low self-esteem .
  • Shame.
  • Fear of being wrong or feeling judged.
  • Parents with an overprotective or authoritarian educational style.
  • Mistakes of the past that have been poorly managed or even punished.
  • Irrational beliefs related to the approval or love of the environment: “if I disappoint, they will stop loving me”.
  • Personal insecurities.
  • Excessive perfectionism ; children who believe that if they don’t do everything right, they will disappoint.
  • Etc.

“It is not necessary to know the danger to be afraid; in fact, unknown dangers are the ones that inspire the most fear.”

-Alejandro Dumas-

How to help him manage that fear?

As parents it can be very distressing to see how our children experience situations that make them feel bad , and it is understandable that we look for ways to help them.

In this sense, there are some things you can do to help children overcome the fear of cheating:

  • Identify the fear . First of all, you must identify what is the cause of fear in your child.
  • Talk to the child about fear . Explain that it’s normal to feel scared at times and that it’s not wrong.
  • Let him know that you are there to accompany and support him.
  • Validate what you feel . Don’t minimize their fear, avoid using phrases like ‘you don’t have to be afraid’, ‘don’t feel like this’, etc.
  • Never make fun of what the child feels.
  • Don’t exaggerate about it . It’s okay to pay attention to the fear you feel but not make it a big deal.
  • Offer options to manage the fear .
  • Explain to him that if he can’t do something perfectly, they won’t stop loving him and he won’t let anyone down.
  • Teach him that failure is part of life and it’s okay. That is for learning and growth.
  • And last but not least, don’t pass on your own fears to him .

If you feel that the situation is getting out of hand or you do not have the necessary tools to help your child manage their emotions, we encourage you to seek the professional help of a therapist, who will help you generate strategies to deal with this situation.

pay attention to the mirror

Our children are a reflection in large part of who we are and how we face life. So, when our children begin to experience fear of failure for fear of letting others down, it is important that we do a process of introspection .

It is necessary to evaluate how our parenting style is, and if in some way we are pressuring our children and making them feel that they must excel in everything so as not to disappoint us.

In the same way, we must be very attentive to manipulation as a means of control that we can sometimes use. If this happens to you, do not worry, being parents is not easy and we can make some mistakes along the way, but the really important thing is to become aware of them and correct them.

Allow them to grow and experiment

Many children frequently feel fear because they have been raised through an overprotective style that, far from being good for their development, ends up being a real problem.

We know that sometimes it is a bit difficult to let our children have some freedom (always with clear limits), but it is necessary so that they can acquire skills and know that nothing happens if they fail at something.

In this sense, it is very important to work on the self-esteem of our little ones, so that they know that they are worth much more than their performance and that our love is not conditioned by the results they obtain in certain situations.

“I cannot conceive of any need as important during a person’s childhood as the need to feel protected by a father.”

-Sigmund Freud-

Always let him know that he is a valuable human being with many capabilities, that mistakes are part of life and that they serve to learn, that you will always love him for everything he is and that you know that he can achieve much more.

And do yourself a favor; these same lines apply to you too, you are doing well!

Photos | Portada (freepik), Imagen 1 (freepik)

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