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Mom Fears Preschool

Family Safety Expert Advice from Gavin de Becker

Q: I'm so afraid for my four-year-old daughter to attend preschool. I feel she's still so small, she's my only child, and I fear someone may mistreat her. There's no one there she knows and she's all alone. I met her teacher and she doesn't seem friendly. My daughter is still a baby and has never been cared for by anyone other than family. How can I overcome this fear for her?

A: Assuming you have put your best resources into selecting a good preschool, remember children are safer at school than almost anywhere else. But it sounds to me like you are hesitant about the preschool. You write that the teacher ''doesn't seem friendly.'' Did you discuss that with the teacher or the principal? The main issue you ask about is something you call fear, but what you describe is not fear.

True fears and unwarranted fears may at times feel the same, but you can tell them apart. True fear is a gift that signals us in the presence of danger; thus, it will be based upon something you perceive in your environment or your circumstance. Unwarranted fear or worry will always be based upon something in your imagination or your memory.

Worry is the fear we manufacture; it is a choice. Conversely, true fear is involuntary; it will come and get our attention if necessary. But if a parent or a child feels fear constantly, there is no signal left for when it's really needed. Thus, the parent who chooses to worry all the time or who invests unwarranted fears into children is actually making them less safe. Worry is not a precaution; it is the opposite because it delays and discourages constructive action.

I suggest working to increase your level of comfort about the school, but at the same time, working to reduce unwarranted worry in your life (and thus, in your daughter's life). You may want to check out this link about reducing worry.

More on: Expert Advice

Gavin de Becker is widely regarded as the leading U.S. expert on the prediction and management of violence. His work has earned him three Presidential appointments and a position on a congressional committee. He is currently co-chair of the Domestic Violence Council Advisory Board, and a Senior Fellow at the UCLA School of Public Policy.


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