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Fear of Flying

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Fortunately, most kids are excited by plane trips and seldom waste a moment worrying that they're five miles above safe solid ground. But given that one out of six Americans reportedly has a fear of flying on planes, some of these people are bound to be children-- maybe yours.

For some adults, fear of flying becomes so acute that they enroll in courses to overcome their phobia. Hopefully, a frightened child can be gently helped to enjoy the ride.

Fear of Flying Tips:

Talk About the Problem
It's never a good idea to dismiss a child's frights with glib reassurances. Talk to your child about any worries about a plane trip; often, it can be a release simply to express their anxieties.

  • DO: give your child a chance to speak about any anxieties they might have.
  • DON'T: influence your child with your own concerns about security.

Underlying Causes

Some psychologists suspect that a child's fear of flying might represent some underlying anxiety ... about, for example, a divorce or other family difficulty.

It's hard to probe into painful areas; but children are sometimes ready to share their problems if given the opportunity. At least give the child the chance to speak about any problems bothering him.

The Statistics Don't Really Help...

Even with adults who have a fear of flying, it does little good to argue that vastly more people die in car crashes than in planes. As the nervous flier sees it, even if only one person in 10 million dies in a plane, that one person could still be him! And you may end up scaring your child about car travel.

Learn how the Plane Operates
Often, anxiety is reduced by understanding how the plane flies, what turbulence is, etc. Find a kid-friendly page online, such as Dynamics of Flight, at the NASA site.

  • Kids might also wonder: why do planes need to fly so high? Basically, the air at 30,000 feet is less than half as dense as the air at 5,000 feet: the plane can move faster through thinner air, and needs less fuel. Also, conditions are smoother above the clouds.

    continue to p. 2, Fear of Flying: Tips for the Day of Your Flight

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