When a child expresses fear of flying, reassurance is needed. But when the fear persists, there are other things to consider.
When a child expresses fear of flying, it is usually about fear or anxiety of some other kind, about which the child cannot speak in a more accurate way. If your child expresses fear, start by reassuring the child that you are sure everything will work out fine. If this does not completely remove the child’s fears, looking deeper with the assistance of a therapist can save you the heartache of serious problems during the teen years.
Since a child relies on its parents as the primary source of security, the expression of fear of flying means — unmistakably — that the child does not feel secure. Though parents have the best intentions, that there is a mismatch in what is being provided and what the child needs to feel secure.
If this mismatch is not dealt with, insecurity will persist. When the child becomes a teenager, there will be efforts to hide or deny the insecurity. Once underground, the problem may become impossible to address. Efforts by the teen to hide the insecurity, may lead to crisis.
The additional stresses of puberty may become overwhelming. Without sufficient inner resources, a teenager may turn to outer resources to control feelings, outer resources such as drugs, alcohol, attempts to prove fearlessness or other destructive behavior.
From my point of view, the expression of fear of flying by a child is a blessing. It lets the parent know there is a problem while the child is still open to being helped. If your child is anxious about flying, adequate professional assistance now can head off major difficulties during the teenage years.
But, there is another reason for resolving the anxiety. A child must know how to independently manage feelings for normal development to take place. Though IQ is important, for IQ to translate into success, emotions — including anxiety — must be appropriately regulated.
For these reasons, I cannot overemphasize how important it is to find a therapist for a child who expresses fear of flying. Still, a child can have legitimate questions about flight safety. I’m happy to help with any questions about flying a child has, by email or by discussing it with the child on the phone.