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Listening to Fear: Helping Kids Cope, from Nightmares to the Nightly News    by Steven Marans order for
Listening to Fear
by Steven Marans
Order:  USA  Can
Owl, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Adults have difficulty relating to children with fears. We may see their fears as irrational and don't have concrete ideas about how to help them through these struggles. No matter what their age, children can experience fears and worries. Dr. Steven Marans, an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, explains to parents how to help their children overcome these troubles and move on to a happier, calmer life. First, Dr. Marans talks about adults acknowledging their own fears. If an adult is unable to pinpoint the source of their fear, then working with a child will be futile. He helps us see that nightmares and childhood fears can actually translate into problems in adulthood.

In dealing with children, parents need to help children express their feelings about their fears, rather than pushing their adult ideas at the child. For example, when a child is crying it may be for a number of reasons. Getting to the bottom of why (such as being afraid to go to sleep on his/her own, something we all must learn how to do but isn't always easy) rather than jumping to conclusions ('I've tried everything to make him stop so I must be a bad parent') will help to solve the problem rather than making assumptions and allowing the fear to perpetuate. Next, the author discusses behavior, which is one of the ways that children most often communicate, especially when they cannot verbalize their fears and worries. Each age and stage of development is covered, from birth through the teen years. Special sections on trauma and disasters give helpful hints and tools for these very real problems.

This is an interesting and helpful book with concrete advice to help parents to work through fears with their children. A few examples of real-life incidents are given, which really help to clarify the points. As helpful as the anecdotes are, there is a shortage of practical advice for parents to use to help their own children. Multitudes of potential fears are briefly discussed, I would have appreciated more concrete solutions or role-playing ideas to develop the techniques. If your children suffer from fear and anxiety, this is an invaluable tool. It is easy to read and to relate to and provides straightforward advice. With the world becoming a more terrifying place as each day passes, Listening to Fear is a book that parents should have in their reference library.

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