Has your child ever been truly terrified of an object or activity? So much so that they refuse to put themselves in a situation or do an activity, no matter how nicely you ask them? In some cases, this may be down to a standard temper tantrum, but if this behavior continues for an extended period, then they may have a phobia.
Phobias are unpleasant because of the prolonged periods of fear and anxiety that come with them. In this article, we will take a look at the most common types of phobias in kids.
What Are Phobias?
A phobia is a fear of a specific object, place, or situation. When a kid grows up, they may be afraid of the bogeyman, sleeping alone, or being apart from their parents, but these fears tend to pass as they grow older.
It is possible to develop phobias of pretty much anything, even things that most people get joy from. For example, some kids—and even adults—have a phobia of clowns.
The most common types of phobias in kids include:
- Insects and spiders
- The dark
- Health problems
While it is perfectly normal for kids to have fears, they will often come and go as they get older. However, if the kid suffers an extreme level of anxiety every time they see the specific thing, then it is worth speaking with your doctor to see how they can help.
Other Types of Phobias
Phobias are just related to specific things; they can also be related to social situations. For example, a social anxiety disorder can make a child avoid certain social activities, such as performances, sports, speeches, or in some cases, school activities altogether.
Another condition is agoraphobia, which is a fear of open spaces. This phobia is often linked with a fear of having panic attacks, and the child may refuse to leave the house as a result. Separation anxiety, selective mutism, and panic disorder are also classified as phobias.
What Causes These Phobias?
Phobias can occur due to a traumatic first experience with an object or situation. But it can also come down to biological factors that cause the “fight or flight” to go into overdrive.
If you or your partner suffer from excessive anxiety, then there is a risk that your child might develop this tendency as well. Likewise, if one of the parents has a phobia and a child sees it, there is a higher likelihood that they will develop the same fear, hence the common fear of spiders and insects. It is also possible that traumatic life events could lead to symptoms of anxiety and panic developing.
Symptoms of a Phobia
Kids with phobias will usually avoid situations or places where they may have to face the object of their phobia. In some cases, this can lead to significant disruption to their daily lives.
It is very common for kids with phobias to have panic or anxiety attacks when they come face-to-face with their fear. These intense attacks will usually pass once the child has been removed from the stressful situation, but the symptoms can be quite unpleasant when they occur. Common symptoms of an anxiety or panic attack include:
- Increased heart rate
- Shaking or trembling
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling dizzy or faint
What Should I Do If I Think My Kid Has a Phobia?
Initially, you should book an appointment with your doctor to see if any underlying conditions cause the symptoms. If they believe that your child has a phobia, then they will refer the child to a specialist, such as a psychologist or a therapist. These specialists will often utilize talk therapy to get to explore the reasons for the phobia and help give the child relaxation techniques to cope with the symptoms. Eventually, they will try and get the child to face their fears in a controlled way.
Whatever the approach, the goal is to help the child cope with their phobias and lead an active life.