by Michael Pearl from No Greater Joy Magazine – No More Bondage to FEAR
Editor’s note: I can think of more than a few children I’ve known through the years that would be emotionally devastated to have a parent minimize their need for comfort and safety in situations that create fear in them like Michael states you should. Overcoming shyness isn’t simply a matter of telling a kid to tough it out. Again Mr. Pearl shows he has no real basic understanding of either emotions or needs in children.
Now there are some children that are truly afraid. We are not talking about those who are absolutely terrified of danger, whether real or imagined. That is another matter and is very rare. We are talking about the social response of fear or shyness that causes the child to retreat to his mother’s security. Without lecturing or spanking the child, you can end this negative behavior.
When Johnny shows shyness or social fear, attempting to withdraw into your embrace, never hold him or reassure him. When he gets behind you, push him away and say something remote and indifferent like, “Don’t get behind me, go play.” Express mild disapproval in your facial features and the tone of your voice. Never protect the child who wants to emotionally nurse. Never affirm his feelings by assisting him in his expressions. Indicate the kind of response you want, and brag on the child’s strength and boldness. As you shove him back into the public, briefly state that he is “a big boy now, and big boys don’t act like that.”
Strength never comes by showing understanding for the weakness. Fear is not overcome by dealing with the fear; it is overcome by DOING the fearful thing. You overcome fear by facing the tiger with your fear and discovering that you can walk away alive. In time you laugh at the tiger, for it was only paper. But if your child flees from the tiger, and you call it fear and then offer sympathy or protection, you legitimize the child’s fear and the paper tiger gets bigger and more threatening every day. If you treat the paper tiger with indifference, the child will feel the same. Wild animals learn what to be afraid of and what to tolerate by watching their parents. What do you want, a pitiful, weak child, cowering for comfort, or a tiger tamer? You will make the child into the image of your own responses.
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