Stranger anxiety (the fear of strangers) is what young children feel when they meet unfamiliar people. Infants can become anxious as young as six months of age.
Before this age, most infants accept unfamiliar people without much fuss. As they grow, they begin to show strong preferences for the people who care for them the most - usually their parents.
They begin to realize that all people are not the same, and that the relationship they have with their parents is special.
So what can adults do to reduce the fear of stranger in children? Read the following steps.
Don’t pressure. Parents should try not to pressure their children to “be sociable.” Instead, let them become used to new faces and new situations at their own pace.
Don’t ignore your child’s distress. Parents should not ignore the fear of strangers in their children.
Warn friends and relatives. Parents should let people who might have their feelings hurt by their child’s rejection know that they shouldn’t take it personally.
Teach friends and relatives how to handle the child. Parents should make sure that friends and relatives are aware of things they can do to make themselves seem less threatening to their children.
Slowly introduce new caretakers (e.g. babysitters). It is a good idea for parents to allow their children to get to know their caretakers before being left alone with them.
Provide comfort. Children often need comfort and reassurance from their parents as they grow. Therefore, parents should try to be available to comfort their children when they face new people.
Children like any other human being need to be comfortable and enjoy their freedom.