One day we were playing outside with a little boy my son’s age when a garbage truck came along. You probably know the loud noises these things produce, and some kids even get excited at their approach and watching them at work. But not my boy. Once its growling was in earshot he instantly became fearful and ran to me. He jumped in my arms and nuzzled his face into my shoulder, arms wrapped tightly around me. I returned the embrace, and whispered (what I hope were) comforting statements in his ear: “Is that garbage truck loud? Don’t worry, I’m right here, I’ve got you.”
The experience made me grateful for the trust this meant my son had in me. Other parents might have wondered why their kid was so scared and maybe even told them, “you’re fine, it’s just the garbage truck, you don’t need to be scared” or even, “stop freaking out!” but this would not validate their fear or comfort them and help them to feel safe. Instead this would force the kids to bury their fear and learn that their parent is not someone that they can go to when they are afraid.
What do I do so he knows he can trust me? Stay tuned and I’ll talk about what I believe helps children know they can trust their parents.
[Author's note: this post was written two months ago and already my son has gotten used to these loud noises and they no longer scare him. In fact, he usually calls them "choo-choos" (cute, I know). It just goes to show that he learned on his own (and in his own time) that there was nothing to be afraid of - I did not need to force him to "be fine."]