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Differences between fear and phobia in children

Differences between fear and phobia in children


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There are differences between the emotion of fear and phobias. These 2 concepts are often spoken of as if they were synonymous but from psychology they are seen as different phenomena

We explain the differences between the feeling of fear and that of phobia so that you learn to distinguish them in your child.

Fear is an emotion that is related to a survival function. It appears before the threat or before a risk situation. It allows us to act with caution and avoid danger. In addition, it is a natural and frequent emotion so, in principle, it does not involve any psychological problem. Fear is a necessary feeling in the evolution of every child.

When this fear becomes irrational, disproportionate and is focused on a particular object or in a real situation that causes it, that is when the phobia can appear. Phobia is an emotion of an intense nature, and it makes it very difficult for a child to control his responses.

Therefore, what differentiates these two emotions are:

- The consequences that each one implies. The phobia can interfere with the child's daily life. Something that does not happen with fear.

- The intensity and disproportion that occur in emotions, which in the case of phobia is much greater.

For example, fear would be if a child was affected at a costume party and became alert when he saw someone with a mask. It would be a phobia if the intensity of this fear makes the child not want to go to the party and avoid it.

The phobia appears when the child experiences the situation as a real threat, lives it with anguish and panic. He will desperately try to avoid the threat, and create strategies to avoid the situation or the stimulus. When phobias or exaggerated fears appear, we propose to do the following:

- Talk to the boy. It is important that you can put into words everything that covers the phobia or exaggerated fear.

- Keep in mind that fear is always true and real for the child who feels it.

- Do not ignore it or be indifferent to the situation. Our role as adults will be to contain the little one and give him support.

- Try to reduce anxiety when the situation approaches.

- Do not overprotect it. This helps to make the problem bigger and bigger and hinder a possible solution.

- Do not force the child to face the object or the situation that causes fear, the only thing that can happen is that the anguish increases.

It should be checked whether the child's fear lasts more than twenty days on average. When we realize that this fear or phobia alters the child's daily lifestyle and has negative consequences on their personal evolution, school performance, social and family relationships.

When this occurs, the problem should be addressed with the advice of a specialist. An educational counselor, if it is from a school setting, a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist with experience in children would be the references to go to.

You can read more articles similar to Differences between fear and phobia in children, in the category of Fears on site.


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