August 20, 2016

What I’ve Learned from watching my 2-Year-Old Face his Deepest Fear.


Recently, as I sent my youngest son to his first day of childcare, I knew he would have to confront his biggest fear:

Mummy wouldn’t be around.

What’s more, mummy wouldn’t be with him as he entered a completely new and unfamiliar environment, full of people he had never met.

Yet, most of us have to go through this stage in life. We leave the comfort of our family and step into a school system, some sooner than others.

And although I know this is the right step to take, it still causes my heart pain. As I watch my son confronting his biggest fear, I too go through a process that makes me uncomfortable.

If I could choose, I would hold my baby tight and keep him at home. But I push through it anyway; I know we can get through this, because I’ve done it with my two older boys. This time round, we’re going to get past this stage fine, just like the last two times.

At first I thought, as the days go by, he’ll get used to the idea of going to school. But, there was hardly any progress. On the fifth day at school, he was just as afraid of going as he was on his first day.

Every day he continues to tell me, “Mummy, I don’t want to go to school.”

This puts me through a process of questioning myself. Am I doing the right thing? Am I sending him to school too early? Are the caretakers in school kind and patient with young children? Is there anything undesirable going on inside that classroom that I don’t know?

You can call it paranoia.

I’ll admit it: I am as attached to him as he is to me. I’m probably going through separation anxiety as well!

Although he’s my third son, he’s the first one that I decided to send to a half-day childcare program at the early age of two-and-a-half years. His brothers only went to a two-hour program then. This is new territory for me, too.

I know there’s no turning back. I have to continue sending him to school every day despite his pleas not to every morning, afternoon and night when I mention it.

This gets me thinking:

Why are we putting our kids through this process? Why don’t we keep them safe and warm in their own little nest at home?

It would be easier on everyone, wouldn’t it?

No tears, no heartache on the parents’ part, no anxiety on the children’s part, and everybody will be happy.

But we can’t do that, can we?

In fact, we don’t want to do that. This is because we know that they’ll be able to overcome their biggest fear. More importantly, we know that something waits on the other side of that fear—something our kids will appreciate later on in life.

You and I go through the same pattern of fear when we choose between overcoming our biggest fear to accomplish something or staying in our comfort zone. The only difference is that we have nobody to “push” us. Often, we choose to delay it.

If our kids were left to decide for themselves between staying at home and confronting their fears of not having mummy around, they would probably choose to stay at home.

This is what we are wired to do: we choose familiarity.

We usually fear the unknown, imagined and constructed in our mind. We think about it too much, until it almost seems like reality. But as we know from experience throughout our lives, it isn’t. Things are rarely as bad as we imagine them to be.

We overcome our fear countless times.

Confronting our fear is not a one-time thing. Sometimes we have to do it over and over again, just like my son in his first week at school. On those first few days, he was so overcome by anxiety that he couldn’t see what was in front of him: the friends, the songs, the circle time, the activities that he would usually enjoy.

The process involves struggle, anxiety and, most definitely, the urge to quit and turn back. We are drawn to our comfort zone. That’s our human weakness.

So ask yourself what your darkest fear is right now. Ask yourself why you need to face this fear.

Remember, there’s always another good thing waiting on the other side.

We’re in the second week of school now, but my little one still cries when I leave him. Yet, my little darling can go through this painful process. It’s tough for him. It’s tough for me to see him “suffer” emotionally.

Who ever said confronting our fear would be painless?

Now get out there and do what you’re meant to do! If my two-year-old son can confront his deepest, darkest fear, you can too.


Author: Lili Rasprasith

Image: CircaCassy/Flickr

Editor: Toby Israel


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