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Why We As Parents Need To Avoid Passing On Our Fears To Our Children

The reason for me telling you all of this is that I believe as parents, no matter how hard it is, we should try really hard not to pass our own fears onto our children. They need to find their own path in terms of what they're afraid of, or hopefully, they will just work out safe limits so they don't hurt themselves.

I have grown up disliking spiders, having my face under water and walking downhill.

Each of us have at least one fear, which not always, but usually stems from a moment in our childhood.

The going downhill I completely understand - it's because as a child I was quite accident prone and fell down the stairs at our old home on a regular basis in quite a spectacular style. I still remember it really hurting and on one occasion had to go to the hospital with severe concussion.

In hindsight, I feel the fear of spiders could have been avoided.

I grew up in an amazing house, which backed onto open spaces, a big hill and lots of trees and fauna. There was nothing I loved more than playing with a mouse when I found one or looking after the crane flies if they came inside our house. Even now, I will happily scoop one up in my hands and take it outside to free it.

Throughout my life my mum has been without a doubt my role model. So when we were on a family holiday in Wales and I saw her jump on the bed screaming as a spider ran past, it, unfortunately, stayed with me. It didn't help either that a few years later one of my classmates who owned a tarantula, brought in the skin that it had just shed. I really shouldn't have looked! I was an impressionable seven-year-old and those two things stuck with me.

And then the fear of going underwater started with being told not to have a shower at the swimming pool because my mum didn't like water on her face. To this day she still can't swim. It also followed an incident where I jumped into the deep end of the local swimming pool and had a momentary panic as I went quite deep underwater and panicked before eventually resurfacing.

So when my son came along in 2014 I decided then and there that I would try my hardest not to pass any of my fears onto him. So far I'm glad to say it seems to be working well.

He loves having water on his face and the last time we took him to the swimming pool, had a great time splashing around. Now we just need to get him to start swimming, and he'll be well away. For the last round of lessons, I swam with him and forced myself to go under the surface. The teacher could tell that I was visibly shaken but thankfully (I hope at least) he was none the wiser.

Getting over a fear at any stage in life is a really big challenge and you only appreciate how big a deal it is when you have to face that fear head-on.

The spider side of things was a, "I'm not going to let this beat me moment," when a particularly big black spider was hovering over the doorway and descending from its web. The timing wasn't great as I had my son in my arms and we were heading out to the car for a day out. Rather than panicking, we just ended up moving a lot quicker than planned out of the front door, but and here is the but, I did it.

Now it seems as a result of that hurdle being overcome, I'm the go-to person for spider removal in our house, and if we see one - I make a point of saying "Oh look, there's a spider!" rather than running away from it. He now loves all spiders, insects and animals, though interestingly is more wary of larger dogs, which is probably more to do with their enthusiasm and size when they come across him than anything else.

I think because of my experiences with falling down the stairs, I'm much more careful when it comes to descents if we're out on a walk. Though I do have to say, having climbed to Macchu Picchu in Peru and descended along quite a perilous path (thankfully with an amazing travelling companion by my side), I do feel much more confident on this front. I certainly don't think anything of going up and down escalators so it's nowhere near as bad as the other two previous fears that I've carried around with me for much of my life.

The reason for me telling you all of this is that I believe as parents, no matter how hard it is, we should try really hard not to pass our own fears onto our children. They need to find their own path in terms of what they're afraid of, or hopefully, they will just work out safe limits so they don't hurt themselves.

It's very easy to forget in the moment of experiencing something that makes us scared, how this will affect them.

But if you're able to remove yourself from a situation and deal with your response to it, away from where they can see/hear you, it is so much better.

Leading by example hopefully, should help our children to be more resilient when they go out into the world and better equipped to deal with anything that life throws at them.

That's what I tell myself every time I go under the water, see a spider or have to go down a steep hill anyway!

Nicola J Rowley is a children's author whose new book James and the Birthday Balloon is published this week and is available to purchase from Amazon here.

The story aimed at 3-7-year-old's looks at how small acts of kindness can spread happiness, and how children can overcome their fear of going to hospital.

Every copy sold will help support Evelina London Children's Hospital, which provides care and life-saving treatment for children in south London and beyond. Each printed copy includes a free audiobook narrated by TV's Dr Ranj.

Image by Hannah McClune Photography