Almost all children of school and pre-school age, adolescents have sometimes experienced fear and anxiety. The appearance of fear in an extreme situation is a normal physiological reaction of the child.
Some children are extremely sensitive. They need time to get used to the new environment, people and situations. For example, if a child goes to school or sports section for the first time, he will be able to get pleasure from it only after a while, when he gets used to the situation. The vast majority of children diagnosed with anxiety and phobic disorder are susceptible, sensitive, suspicious.
Every now and then every child experiences fear. Young children learn about the world, get new experience and face some difficulties or unexpected circumstances that may scare them. It is an integral part of growing up and developing. However, sometimes the child experiences an irrational fear of the most unexpected things. For example, afraid of the sound of a fire engine siren or ambulance, insects.
Phobias in children
Sometimes fears can escalate so much that they turn into phobias. These are strong and irrational fears that interfere in everyday life. For example, the fear of dogs in a six-year-old child can cause panic in him so much that he will refuse to go out at all. Very often, pathological fear is absolutely not connected with real-life circumstances. Objects that frighten a child are often created by his imagination and exist in the fictional world. In this case, the symptoms make themselves felt when circumstances arise that have minimal similarity with the situations created by fantasy.
Some children at this age have a fear of communicating with people they meet in everyday life. Such shyness can prevent a child from finding friends at school and interacting with most adults, especially strangers. Such children may intentionally avoid social situations (for example, Friend’s Birthdays), and it can be difficult for them to communicate with anyone other than their family.
Children suffering from a phobia, are in captivity of their destructive experiences almost constantly, losing psychological comfort during the daytime hours and not being able to relax and fully relax at night. Once in the network of anxiety-phobic disorder, the baby or teenager begins to apply a protective model of action – avoidance behavior.
Children dependent on phobias, consciously limit themselves from staying in places where, in their opinion, there is a likelihood of colliding with a frightening object. Such guys deliberately refuse to perform actions that could potentially provoke an attack of panic. Children who are dependent on phobias, cannot reveal their creative potential and are not able to fully absorb the educational material.
They have obvious difficulties in establishing new contacts and cannot maintain normal relations with their peers. Overcoming fear forces them to abandon exciting activities, not allowing them to fully surrender to their favorite activities.
PHOBIAS IN CHILDREN:CAUSES
The overwhelming majority of babies who have been diagnosed with anxiety and phobic disorder are distinguished by increased impressionability, sensitivity, suspiciousness. These guys are restless and anxious. They tend to over-fix attention on their experiences and think for a long time about what happened. These guys are notable for a violent fantasy, often have outstanding creative abilities.
The reasons that triggered the start of phobia disorder in children may be:
- the unfavorable atmosphere in the family, quarrels, and scandals between parents;
- family breakdown or death of a close relative;
- experienced physical or moral abuse;
- hard parenting style;
- total parental control;
- excessive demands on the child, criticality, rejection of the characteristics of his personality;
- excessive care adults, the inability to carry out independent actions of the child or teenager;
- information overload of a negative nature, regular viewing of programs with scenes of violence, passion for computer games with an aggressive focus;
- endured fright when the little man became a random witness of some kind of tragedy;
- excessive anxiety of parents, inability of adults to control their emotions.
Phobias in children symptoms
Anxiety-phobic disorders in children, as in adults, manifest a variety of symptoms that can be conditionally divided into the following categories:
- physiological manifestations of fear;
- psycho-emotional disorders;
- behavioral changes.
- How to cope with fears and phobias
Fortunately, most phobias are treatable. Phobias are usually not a sign of serious mental illness requiring a long course of psychotherapy. But if a child’s anxiety does not pass for a long time and prevents him from enjoying everyday life, he will need the professional help of a psychologist or psychotherapist who specializes in the treatment of phobias.
During the treatment of phobias, many psychotherapists offer the child to meet the source of their fears in safe doses. For example, if a child is afraid of dogs, the therapist may show him pictures of dogs or videos with them during a conversation. Then he can offer the child to watch the dogs from the window. Finally, in the presence of adults, the psychotherapist can play for several minutes with a harmless little puppy. After that, the child will feel much easier in the presence of dogs.
The child gradually becomes less sensitive to the source of his fear each time he encounters it. In the end, the child will not avoid situations that caused his phobia. Although this process from the outside looks like a matter of course, it should be done only under the supervision of a professional.
Sometimes psychotherapy helps children become more confident and less prone to fears (phobias). In stressful situations, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques can help your child.
Sometimes doctors recommend antidepressants as an additional tool, although they are never used as the only means of treatment. They help alleviate anxiety and panic attacks associated with phobias.
How can parents help a child?
Let us consider several ways parents can help a child cope with fears and phobias:
talk to the child about his anxieties and show sympathy. Explain to him that many children have fears, but with your support he will definitely learn to cope with them;
Do not minimize your child’s fears and make fun of them, especially in the presence of their peers;
Do not force your child to show courage. It may take him time to deal with his fears. However, you can unobtrusively encourage him to look his fear in the eyes and not avoid situations that frighten him. The main thing – do not insist on it.
Fears are a normal part of a child’s life, the reaction of his psyche to a real or imaginary threat, the source of which is in the surrounding world. Therefore, parents should support the child in such situations. Talking with him about his fears, parents should recognize them, but not strengthen and not diminish. Reassure the child and offer him ways to cope with fears. Confidential communication and support is an effective method of dealing with fears. If this does not help, fear can turn into a phobia, and then the best tool will be the help of professionals.