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Helping an Anxious Child Get Over Their Fear of Water

The other day I was speaking with a friend who told me a story about how he helped his nephew get over his fear of water.  It was in this one story that the key to helping children overcome anxiety was beautifully shown.  My friend was taking care of his nephew for the day and brought him to the ocean.

The nephew was scared of the water and so they just sat far back in the sand.  Now this nephew was about six years old and generally not too anxious.  But when it came to water he had a lot of anxiety.  So the two sat back in the sand while the child played with sand.

Soon enough my friend’s nephew asked to get some water to help with building a sand castle.  My friend invited the anxious child to walk closer to the water and he let the nephew stop when they got very close to the water, and my friend filled up his bucket with water.  Soon enough the water ran out and the nephew again asked to go get more water from the ocean.

This time my friend had his nephew hold his hand as they walked to the water together and my friend filled his bucket up with water again.  The third time that this child asked to go get water my friend had him walk up to the water and held his nephew’s hand as he bent down and filled up his own water bucket.

Empower An Anxious Child

By the end of the day, my friend’s nephew felt comfortable going down to the water and filling up his bucket himself and felt incredibly proud of overcoming his fears.  What my friend did was put his anxious nephew in a position to self motivate and slowly but surely become more exposed to the thing he feared.  Slow but sure exposure that is guided by an anxious child him or herself is an incredible way to empower and help them overcome their fears.

– Dr. Jeffrey Kranzler – Proliance Center

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