* This article is an excerpt from and is edited based on a lecture & consultation meeting titled “How to Communicate with and Discipline Small Children” which was held in 2018.
* This article is also available in Japanese and Chinese.
Q: I am concerned that my child gets frightened by TV programs and films (7 yrs. old)
My child gets scared of TV programs, even by small children’s show like “Anpanman”. He covers his eyes and ears and runs away to the corner of the room. He doesn’t get scared to a point where it interferes his daily life, but I am concerned that my child who is already in elementary school gets scared by TV programs that are targeted for children younger than his age.
When a child knows when he feels scared or embarrassed, it means that he has become aware of himself. He can sense and think for himself. So, when something happens that is more than he can process, he feels scared. This is a very important step in a child’s development.
Feeling fear is important in protecting one’s mind. There are many children in elementary school who feel scared to go to class or feel scared of their teachers. It’s common among children with school anxiety or children who refuse to go to school that they become frightened when they see teachers scolding other children. That makes them scared to go to class. Fear acts as a safeguard which protects one’s mind.
To protect your child’s mind, it’s important not to push him too hard. Additionally, when your child says that he is afraid of something, gently ask him “what are you scared of?” or “how does it make you feel scared?”. Then respect his feelings by telling him that you understand what scares him. By verbalizing his feelings, it will make him feel less scared. So, talking about it with your child can help to solve this problem to a certain degree, or it can help to objectify his feelings.
Adults tend to tell them that there’s nothing to be scared of, but you should tell him “I see what scares you. Mommy doesn’t get scared so if you feel frightened, let Mommy know.” By letting your child know his mom will be there to protect him, he will feel at ease, so accepting his feelings like fear and embarrassment will help him come through.
Advisor: Ms. Ryoko Uchida (Psychology Counselor for children)
Since 1973, Ms. Uchida has continuously held counseling sessions at multiple healthcare centers in Tokyo. In addition, since 1998, she has presided over «Momo’s Room: Child Counseling». Ms. Uchida is also a part-time lecturer at Rikkyo University, a widely known advisor for NHK Radio phone counseling on children’s psychology and a speaker at numerous seminars at child care circles, parents’ groups on truant children, and kindergartens across Japan.