What to Do About a Child’s Phobia

IT’S COMPLETELY NORMAL for children to have intermittent fears. These could be fears of being away from you, having monsters in their room at night, getting a shot or loud thunder. Typically fears come and go, and while your child may feel afraid, they’re still able to get on with their life – they go to school, play with friends, fall asleep at night and so on.

Sometimes, however, kids’ fears cause them to panic, and they start avoiding the things they fear. They spend time worrying about what they’re afraid of, even when they’re not being directly confronted by that fear. As a result, their fear undermines their ability to function and what a child normally would be able to do given their developmental stage, because they’re trying to avoid what they’re afraid of or are preoccupied by thoughts of their fear. In such cases, the fear has risen to the level of a phobia.

Phobias are remarkably common in children. Upwards of around 9% of children (or about 1 in every 11 kids) will have a phobia at some point – girls more frequently than boys. A phobia is an irrational, intense fear of an object, animal, person, situation or place that poses very little or no real harm.