How to help your child when they’re scared by tv programmes and films

Before I had my children I used to find it quite funny when a warning came up saying that a film featured ‘mild peril’.  It just always sounded a little silly to me.

Now though, I really appreciate it.

See, Rhys is a really sensitive child.  He does not like anything with the slightest bit of peril, or threat. He watched Moana for the first time with Steve, and kept asking him to turn it off, and constantly looked for reassurance that the characters would be ok.

In recent weeks he’s asked me to turn off ‘Grandpa in my pocket’, ‘Sofia the first’ and ‘Peter rabbit’, amongst other things.  Not programmes that are obviously scary at all.  But it seems that even the slightest hint of characters being in danger or things going wrong is enough to make Rhys feel really uneasy.

If you have a child who, like Rhys, seems to be easily scared by things they see on tv, here are some ideas of how to help them.

how-help-child-scared-tv-films

  • Respect their feelings, don’t belittle them

When your child asks you to turn off something as seemingly benign as Sofia the first, your first instinct can be to tell them not to be silly, and that there’s nothing to be scared of.  But it’s so important to fight that urge and respect that, for them, the fear is very real.

Telling them they’re being silly or that they need to grow up as there’s nothing to be scared of won’t do anything to reduce their feelings of fear.  What it might do though is make them feel that they need to hide their fear from you in the future.

If they say they’re scared by something they’re watching, then reassure them that you will respect their feelings and turn it off if they really are scared.

 

  • Watch with them

If your child is watching something and they tell you it is scaring them, then stop and sit down to watch it with them.

Talk them through what is happening, and ask them what it is about the situation that is making them feel uneasy.  You might find that talking about it helps to lessen their fear.  It can also help to let them see that you’re not scared by what is happening.

 

  • Remember that children don’t care about spoilers

As adults we are so worried about spoilers, when it comes to our favourite tv programmes.  I mean, I got up in the middle of the night to watch the new episodes of Game of Thrones last year so that I could happily go online the next day and not have to worry about spoilers!

Children though, couldn’t care less about spoilers.

Think about it, they’ll happily watch the same film 4 times in a day, and not be bothered in the slightest about the fact that they know exactly what is going to happen.

So if you know how the scary situation will resolve itself in the programme or film they’re watching, then go ahead and tell them.  Knowing that things will work out ok might be enough for them to get past their fear.

 

  • Look at ratings and guidelines

This is where the ‘mild peril’ warning comes in really handy.

If you’re looking for a film to watch with your child then check what rating it’s been given and look out for any warnings about ‘mild peril’ or ‘mild threat’.  Make sure you’re putting on a film that has been rated as suitable for your child’s age, and keep in mind the sorts of things that your child tends to find scary.

Another thing to think about is trying to find something to watch that has main characters that are confident and shown to be managing their own fear.  There’s been research carried out that found that confident main characters help children to feel thrilled by scenes of danger and peril, rather than feel scared by them.

 

My approach with Rhys at the moment is to try and get him to explain to me what it is about what he’s watching that is scaring him.  I try to reassure him that it is ok to feel scared, but that things will work out for the characters in the end.  If after that he is still feeling uneasy and asking for me to change the channel then I’ll respect that and put something else on.

Does your child tend to get easily scared by things they see on tv?  How do you normally handle the situation?

 

Cuddle Fairy
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
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11 Comments

  1. Helen @Talking_Mums 12/07/2017 / 2:23 pm

    Aww, my little one is sensitive too. We went to the pictures to see smurfs and near the end when it looked like the girl smurf was dead she started blubbering and I mean loud blubbering, I gave her a hug and tried to reassure that she would be ok and that I think she would come back to life (I hadn’t seen it before and was praying that this little smurf came back!) Luckily she did x
    #BloggerClubUK

  2. Random Musings 14/07/2017 / 12:17 pm

    It’s a tricky situation and these are great tips on how to handle it. I think talking to them and letting them see that everything turns out ok in the end is a good way to get them over their fear
    Thanks for linking up to #BloggerClubUK 🙂
    Debbie

  3. Angela @ Setting My Intention 16/07/2017 / 3:41 am

    2 out of 3 of my sons did/do tend to get scared (but sometimes pretend like they aren’t). These are good tips – we also tell them about the plot to prepare them and it is very helpful! #KCACOLS

    • This glorious life 20/07/2017 / 3:09 pm

      I think that is one of the most helpful tips isn’t it, not to worry about ‘spoilers’! x

  4. Excellent post. My son gets scared of things on tv or movies as well. We tend to let him know ahead of time if we know something is coming and we watch with him often as well. #KCACOLS

  5. Mammy 18/07/2017 / 9:57 am

    What an excellent post. Sounds as if you are doing exactly the right thing with Rhys to reassure him. Do you think boys are more sensitive than girls? Does Nerys react the same way?
    Your brother cried his eyes out seeing pictures of starving children and was upset for days. He was about the age Rhys is now.

  6. Becky, Cuddle Fairy 19/07/2017 / 12:45 pm

    You make some wonderful points here. My kids do get scared easily. We try to avoid scary shows but there is a bit of fear in most kids shows unfortunately. Telling them how it ends is a good one & I do that too – they don’t mind about spoilers at all!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing with us at #BloggerClubUK x

  7. jeremy@thirstydaddy 19/07/2017 / 3:14 pm

    Mine has never been bothered by that sort of thing but there have been a few movies that she wanted to see that I pre-viewed to check for appropriateness. She seems more affected by sad scenes now #KCACOLS

  8. Jenny (Accidental Hipster Mum) 27/07/2017 / 2:19 pm

    My kids aren’t usually scared by TV but I always was when I was little. These are some fantastic tips.

    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time

  9. Acorn Books 27/07/2017 / 10:22 pm

    Thank you for writing this post, we don’t always realise as grown ups how scary little things can be. My son is the same and there’s been quite a few programmes that have given him cause to worry. You make a great point about children not caring about spoilers, so much better to prepare them! #kcacols

    • This glorious life 28/07/2017 / 2:55 pm

      Thank you for your lovely comment! It’s hard at times isn’t it, when they find things scary that just don’t seem scary at all to us, but I think it’s really important to not just dismiss their feelings. x

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