My 10-year-old daughter has become obsessed with teen gangs. She is convinced that every teenager we pass is going to attack her. How can I persuade her to relax or will she just grow out of it?
Hopefully this is just a phase your daughter is going through but I can appreciate that it's causing you concern. On one hand it's actually quite positive that she's aware of her personal surroundings, but on the other, this is also causing her to feel highly anxious and vulnerable.
It's very natural for a parent to offer comfort by saying that there's nothing to be scared of. If you have tried this approach, you could try another angle by saying that although she may never be attacked, knowing how to protect herself is no bad thing. It could be that if she felt more prepared, it might put her mind at rest. Talk to her about avoiding conflict with gangs and how she could get assistance if necessary and from whom. Teaching her basic self-defence skills could boost her confidence too. You can find out more on our website about self-defence from bullying.
It sounds as if your daughter may be naturally quite anxious at times. Encourage her to replace her worrying thoughts with more reassuring and self-comforting ones. You could practise this with her in simple role plays and demonstrate first how you tell yourself that things are OK and you'll deal with whatever comes your way. Reiterate that you're also there to protect her and that just because teenagers do tend to hang around in groups, not all of them are necessarily dangerous.
It's also worth monitoring what she's watching on TV or the internet. If she's seeing violent or threatening images, these might be playing on her mind.
For more information and advice on parenting issues visit Family Lives.
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