May 5, 2015gn="top">

Specific Phobias:
Children may experience specific phobias, which are intense, irrational fears of certain things or situations, (e.g., dogs, bees, injections, the dark, escalators, tunnels, flying, etc.). Children may not realize that fear of such objects are unreasonable. Typically, children or adolescents will become extremely distressed when confronted with the feared object or situations.

Primary Symptoms:
Children’s avoidance or distress re: the feared object results in significant disruption in the child’s routine, school functioning, or family functioning, or social relationships. In children, the anxiety felt may be expressed by crying, tantrums, freezing, or clinging. In addition, children may experience rapid heart rate, dizziness, sweaty palms, etc. when confronted with the feared object or situation.

Cognitive behavioral treatment packages have also been successfully employed in the treatment of specific phobias, such as fears of dogs, spiders, the dark, needles, etc. Techniques commonly used include relaxation training, use of imagery techniques, token reinforcements implemented by parents (e.g., praise, sticker charts), and children’s and parent’s careful monitoring of the child’s positive behaviors. In addition, children are taught to change their anxious thoughts and replace them with positive, coping thoughts. Children are also taught, through the process of exposure therapy, ways to gradually enter situations that they formerly avoided due to fear. Again, this therapy should be implemented by a trained therapist.

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Last Updated
May 5, 2015