People are not afraid of driving, a pool at a friends house, simple tools, household items, children without a car seat, bees, gardening, smoking, or obesity.
But what's the best way to debunk these irrational fears? I think facts help a little bit. If we had one 9/11 every month, 12 each year(!), more people would still die each year in U.S. traffic accidents (45000). Disregard fear of terrorism. 2006 there were 62 shark attacks and four deaths in the world. At the same time we had 199 000 U.S. accidents by working with nails and bolts, 139 000 injuries from ladders, and 44 000 injuries from toilets. Yet, sharks are sooooo dangerous! There is less than one person a year killed by Grizzlies and 22 die from teddy bears. You know the fuzzy ones in your child's bedroom. Lets not count how many die from obesity at a young age each year but are still not worried about it.
Quick, your 4-year old can go to Elizabeth or Steve to play. Elizabeth's parents have a pool and Steve's parents have a gun. What's more dangerous? Every parent picks the gun. Each year 500 U.S. kids die in pool accidents. Far more than if there was a gun present.
Quick, what's the leading cause of death for children in U.S.? Traffic accidents. A car seat is far more important than worrying about pedophiles, sharks, or lead paint. I find it laughable when the concerned parent finds that super dangerous toy that has been sitting on a shelf for two years and drives very fast down to the toy store to exchange it. Of course without a car seat. Lead paint is not good for us but please put it in perspective. I don't see thousands of U.S. kids dying of lead paint.
I tried to explain to my wife how irrational her acting was and she agreed after a while. She was in a nice and calm museum with controlled exits. She's in one of the safest countries in the world, where we leave our kids sleeping in the stroller OUTSIDE the restaurant while we eat (because it's so safe). Kidnappings of kids by strangers are unheard of and so are pedophile cases. There are actually cases but almost without exception it's a parents or relative involved, not a stranger. Like a custody fight etc. During the last 50 years I don't know of any cases where a child was kidnapped by a stranger in Sweden. Chances a pedophile kidnapped my son during the few minutes he was "missing" and took him to Russia are possible but not likely.
Controlling irrational fear means confronting it. To read about it and learn more about the fear. Learning more about perceived fear often means learning it's not actually dangerous at all. I'm can't hide from fear, I get scared as well. But I control it and try to figure out if it's really dangerous or just feels like it. I'm scared of flying sometimes but feel better thinking about how many planes take off each day in he world and how few accidents there are. I don't like pedophiles any more than you do but know the risks are unbelievably small. Confronting fear also means realizing things could happen even though it's unlikely. This might be the most difficult part. Thinking of how something could happen to your dear child. Most choose instead to walk around paralyzed and blinded with fear.
Two of our friends are the greatest examples of irrational fear. Both Latin, they are experts at irrational fear. One won't let male teachers at day care/kindergarten help her kids in the toilet. Apparently every male is a pedophile. The other one tells her perfectly intelligent daughter "no!" and "Be careful" 75 times each time they leave their apartment. Because it's sooo dangerous in Sweden (the most uneventful place on earth, I mean that in a good kind of way) I haven't had the heart to tell the first one it's about a 1000 times more likely her husband is abusing her kids than a teacher. And the other one thinks Caracas in Venezuela is much safer than Sweden. And pigs do fly.
It's sad to see parents projecting this kind of fear onto their kids. IMHO it's better to face irrational fear, or just fear, instead of walking around panicked and blinded by imaginary threats. Be aware, not paranoid. Be alert, not paralyzed. I think that's a good lesson to teach the kids.
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