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Help Students Gradually Face Their Fears


Social-Emotional Learning/Growth Mindset All Ages Strategy


Anxiety Flexible Thinking Self-regulation

Help Students Gradually Face Their Fears

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Help students face and overcome their fears with repeated, small dose exposure.

How To Apply It!

  1. Always start with compassion. Students need to feel safe and trusting that you understand how afraid they are and are there to support them in working through it.
  2. Discuss why it is beneficial to overcome the fear. If the fear is heights, discuss the things they will enjoy doing. If the fear is speaking in class, discuss why it will improve their grade and make class more interesting. Overcoming a fear is hard work and your student must truly want to overcome the fear for their own motivations, not just because they want to please you.
  3. Plan for repeated, incremental small dose exposure to help a student overcome a fear. The goal is to help students build up their confidence over time. For a fear of heights, consider trying one step higher on the ladder every day. If speaking, start by raising a hand once a day. Allow for advance preparation. Gradually increase frequency and impromptu comments. Let the student set the pace as long as you are seeing improvement.
  4. Be certain to support your student until the fear is overcome. Remember, repeat exposure is key but so are compassion and understanding.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Regardless of how determined someone might be, it is hard to overcome fears. Also keep in mind that fears are rooted deep in the psyche, and while someone's fears might seem irrational to you, they feel very real to that person. Research shows that repeated, small dose exposure to a fear is the best way to overcome it.