Childhood fears can develop into phobias


A spider, is a common fear and phobia among many people. Photo by Seana Jordan.

Seana Jordan, Reporter

Most children experience common fears, such as the dark, strangers, monsters or anything that may seem life threatening. Some children do not grow out of these fears, which can end up being detrimental to the brain’s development and growth.

According to a Harvard document by The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, infants begin to experience feelings of fear and differentiate them from other emotions between six and 12 months of age.

If fears that these children have get worse, then it can be a major cause of anxiety.The difference between fear and a phobia is a matter of short term and long term. Fears may not last as long as phobias will.Phobias most of the time are lifelong.

“Everyone has fears, these are a normal part of survival; however, sometimes they manifest into phobias,” psychology teacher Susan Huppenthal said. “This falls under Anxiety Disorders in the DSM-5.”

As these fears develop more intensely, parents will sometimes put children into behavioral therapy. This can help children work through their fears and correct them right at the source.

“Specifically exposure therapy and systematic desensitization are some groups children may be put in.  Virtual therapy is something new that is effective for phobias as well as relaxation techniques,” Huppenthal said.

While most children’s fears can fade away with age, it was found by Children’s Health that only twenty five percent ever seek help for their condition.