Fear Or Phobia?
Everyone has things they are afraid of of, including kids. If you ask an adult what he or she is afraid of, he or she might answer, "failure," or, "being alone," or some other slightly more abstract concept. Or he or she might mention one of the common fears, such as, "heights," or, "spiders." Ask a kid what he or she is afraid of and you might hear more of those "height" and "spiders" type of answers. That's all fine, and it's all really very normal.
But for some people, including some kids, fears taken on a bigger place in their lives. The fear becomes debilitating, and impedes the ability to function normally. A person - parent or child - might go out of his or her way to avoid any situation in which the fear might have to be acknowledged. I person can feel completely out of control when thinking about this thing of which they are afraid and the fear can trigger panic attack-like symptoms. When this happens, it's more than a fear - it's a phobia.
Kids have fears, too
Just like adults, kids have fears and kids have phobias. Kids can be afraid of just about anything (just like adults), such as taking a test or big dogs or just about anything else. When it's a
phobia your child is dealing with, the response of all involved can be challenging: your child may even have a hard time understanding why he or she responds to things in a certain way, and adults
may dismiss the behavior as irrational and without basis - or become upset or even angry in response to it.
When to get help
For some people, including kids, phobias that interfere with every day life and the enjoyment of it may need a professional's help to manage and treat. Your child's pediatrician may be able to help
you - or may be able to refer you to someone with specific expertise in helping kids manage phobias - whether it's a fear of heights that is making taking stair to their classroom at school
difficult, or just about anything. Regular reassurance that you'll be there to help your child is important, too.
Tell us: How do you help your kids manage their fears? Comment below!
For more on helping kids deal with fears: