Monday, October 29, 2012

Fear of Strangers

A threatened sense of security, in fact, underlies many childhood dears. A child’s first predictable anxiety - a fear of strangers – surfaces midway through her first year. Before this time, a baby will smile at anyone. But by about six months, her mental development enables her to distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar faces. Because the unfamiliar ones tend to leave her confused and uncertain, she may cry or try to hide her face when a stranger – even a close relative – approaches. The best way to minimize this fear is to expose your child early on to a variety of people.

 Another security-related fear that arises at about this time is the child’s fear of being left by her parents – a development often referred to as “separation anxiety” or “separation protest.” It begins around the age of seven months, at first as a simple mental awareness that a familiar parental figure has disappeared from the scene. Later expressions of separation anxiety are more related to the child’s deepening emotional attachment to her parents: Distress at being apart form these primary suppliers of love and security, even for brief periods, usually emerges at around 18 months and may continue until the child is three years of age.