Fears and Phobias
Children's FearsChildren have more fears and phobias than adults do and they generally experience them more intensely than we do. Fears can appear and disappear as a child develops and it can be quite normal for a child to like something one day and fear it the next, as they slowly get to grips with the world around them.
They often develop as a learned response. That is, if a significant adult in their life has a fear of something, the child will see or "pick up on" the adults fear response and learn that this is something they should be afraid of. This will generally occur before the child has had a chance to decide for themselves how they feel about this particular thing. Fears can also appear as a result of new, unfamiliar or confusing experiences.
What is a Phobia?A phobia is a disorder in which a person's body reacts by exhibiting feelings of anxiety and fear in situations where there is absolutely no need for these feelings. No matter how harmless the object of the phobia is, the fear the person experiences is just as real as if the cause was a real threat.
How a Fear Turns into a PhobiaA fear turns into a phobia through avoidance. For whatever reason the child will find (let's take dogs for example) frightening. Because they are scared of dogs the child will do all they can to avoid them. Keeping away from dogs makes them feel better (i.e. anxiety hormone levels drop). This drop in anxiety reinforces to the child that staying away from dogs is a good thing and that therefore (and here's where the real problem lies) going near dogs must be a bad thing. Because the child now thinks going near dogs is a bad thing, they avoid dogs, and so the cycle continues!
Phobia Symptoms in ChildrenWhen faced with something they are phobic of, the reactions children may experience include:
- Running away
- Going rigid
- Going pale
How Hypnotherapy Can HelpPhobias reside in two seperate areas on the brain - the conscious and the unconscious. Consciously the child feels an overwhelming sense of fear and panic. Unconsciously a link has been formed between a stimulus (the feared object) and it's response (the fear). In order to address the conscious fear, the unconscious link must be broken.
Since hypnosis directly accesses the unconscious part of the mind, it is an extremely effective way of doing precisely that. Once this link has been severed, the stimulus no longer elicits the fear response and the phobia is cured.