Children developing fears and phobias is a completely normal stage in their growth. Kids usually have specific fears, but there are a few general ones as well. They may develop fears due to several reasons – by undergoing a traumatic experience (eg. being bitten by a dog), or by watching other kids be scared (eg. of ghosts). Kids may refuse to sleep alone at night, or be afraid of the dark, but these are all normal upto a certain age.
When a fear becomes extreme and begins to meddle with your life, they’re called phobias. Phobias may remain with kids for a long, long time. Once he/she has crossed over the usual age of irrational fears, but the fears and phobias remain, it may be time to consult a doctor or a psychologist.
Here is a list of common fears and phobias among kids of different age groups.
Infants (0-2 years)
Toddlers are startled by simple things they can’t understand. This includes loud noises, strangers, separation from parents and large objects. When confronted with any of these, babies usually start crying and screaming.
Preschoolers (2-5 years)
Kids of these ages have a slightly better imagination. They are able to think and remember, and even watching a scary movie might be enough to trigger a fear. These kids are usually scared of imaginary figures (e.g., ghosts, monsters and supernatural beings), the dark, loud noises, sleeping alone, thunder and floods. Typical reactions include crying, screaming and running away.
Adolescents (5-10 years)
Kids of this age group are more realistic in their thinking. By now, kids are able to differentiate between what is logical and possible and what is only imaginary. They have more realistic fears, like physical injury, health, school performance, death, thunderstorms, earthquakes, floods and wild animals. The good thing about adolescents is that they are able to articulate, at least to the extent of letting their parents know, their fears.
Teenagers (10+ years)
Teenagers usually have fewer fears. However, even the ones they do have might be really intense. Teens usually cover up their fears by appearing to be disinterested or uncaring in order to escape the wrath of their peers. For example, a teen who is scared of drowning may simply say that s/he is not interested in learning how to swim instead of telling the truth.