Healthy Fear vs. Unhealthy Fear

I was reading The Noticer by Andy Andrews this past week, and the author wrote that worry and fear are just a misuse of the creative imagination that has been placed in each of us. He said that because we are smart and creative, we imagine all the things that could happen. I must admit that I find myself worrying entirely too much about everything but especially about my children and grandchildren.

I researched what parents worry about and found it very interesting that almost all the research agrees, which is rare. We spend way too much time worrying about things that will most likely never happen to our children, and we don’t focus nearly enough on what could make a difference for our little ones. We, as parents, are simply worrying about the wrong things.

“These worries that we have are so rare,” says Christie Barnes, author of The Paranoid Parents Guide and mother of four. Based on surveys that Barnes collected, here are the top five dangers that parents worry about:

1.     Kidnapping

2.     School snipers

3.     Terrorists

4.     Dangerous strangers

5.     Drugs

The top five things that parents SHOULD worry about are:

1.     Automobile accidents

2.     Homicide (typically committed by someone who knows the child, not a stranger)

3.     Abuse

4.     Suicide

5.     Drowning

So, what’s a worried parent to do? Barnes has a simple prescription: helmets and seatbelts. Yes, that’s right: helmets and seatbelts. She says, “I know it sounds boring; but according to my research, making kids wear protective gear and buckle up in the car cuts their chances of death by 90 percent and their chances of serious injury by 78 percent.”

So, use your fear in a healthy way. Enroll your child in swimming lessons. Be diligent when children are swimming and don’t take your eyes off the water for a second. Don’t allow a child to ride even one mile without proper restraints. Know who knows your child. Follow your gut instinct and don’t hesitate to end a relationship that doesn’t seem beneficial to your child. Take your child’s word if she discloses something. Spend enough time with your child to know if he is in distress.

Barnes maintains that focusing on rare dangers distracts us from focusing on the dangers that matter. Healthy fear protects … and that is the intent of a loving parent.

 

Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.

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