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Children's fears – the specific, connected with age experiences of concern, the alarms arising as response to the real or imagined threat. Are shown by changes of an emotional state, vegetative symptoms – tachycardia, violation of a rhythm of breath, muscular tension. The behavior is characterized by avoiding of potentially dangerous situations / objects, excessive affection for adults, fear of loneliness. Diagnostics is carried out by the psychologist, the psychotherapist, the psychiatrist. The conversation method, questionnaires, projective tests is used. Treatment is based on psychotherapy by creativity, consultation of parents.

Children's fears

The fear as reaction of an organism to the imagined / real danger is a self-preservation instinct basis, will mobilize the person to flight, fight. Specific difference of children's fears – lack of connection with urgent threat. They evolve from information obtained from the outside, are transformed by the imagination, imagination. Prevalence reaches 90%. Expressiveness varies, in most cases fear superficial, disappears independently, at 1-1,5% of children phobias – the emotional frustration demanding treatment are formed. Epidemiological indicators are higher at girls. The contributing factors – age of parents more than 35 years, education of the only child, limitation of contacts with peers.

Reasons of children's fears

Fear of certain objects or situations is formed at children on the basis of psychological features – impressionabilities, trustfulness, the increased uneasiness, the active imagination. Fears arise at influence of external factors, the most important of which is education. The relations with parents quite often become a source of a nevrotization of the child. Allocate the following reasons of fears of children's age:

  • Negative experience. The injuring situations endured by the child – the main source of strong fears. Emotional deviations difficult give in to correction, become phobias. Example: fear of dogs (street) after a sting an animal.
  • Intimidations. Parents, tutors can use a frightening image of an object (an animal, the person) or situations for suppression of undesirable behavior of the child. Example: "you will be capricious – I will give to others aunt".
  • High uneasiness of parents. The emotional concern, tension of adults, installation are transferred to failure to the child. The bans, cautions (you "will fall", you "will hit") engender the feeling of alarm which is transformed to fear.
  • Aggressive behavior of parents. Demonstration of force, domination by the parent reduces feeling of basic trust and safety. Timidity, constant expectation of a trouble forms fears.
  • Movies, computer games. Plots quite often contain violence scenes, threats. The child is incapable to estimate critically a possibility of similar situations, begins to be afraid of their repetition.
  • Mental disorders of the child. The fear is a symptom of a certain disease (neurosis, a neuropathy). Complex diagnostics, long treatment is required.


Emergence of children's fears is explained by age features of mental development. A key role is played by imagination – thought process of creation of new images and representations by processing of earlier obtained information. Ability to imagination arises in 2-3 years, reaches peak at preschool, younger school age. Fears of children differ in the greatest variety, singularity, intensity of experiences. The child is more impressionable, disturbing, the easier they are formed. Inability to objectively assess a situation, to treat critically own emotions promotes fixing, maintenance of fear. In process of a situation growing of which the child is afraid change. The maintenance of fears reflects the significant sphere of life in this age stage. An infancy – fear of separation from mother; the early childhood, preschool age – fear of darkness, animals, the invented beings; the school period – social fears.


Children's fears are classified by a set of various parameters. Division of fears on biological and social is widespread. Natural arise early, are based on a self-preservation instinct. Social are formed in development of the child, are connected with the sphere of interpersonal contacts. On an object, the reasons, features of manifestations, duration, intensity fears subdivide on:

  • Supervaluable. The most widespread, are result of the imagination of the child. Appear in certain circumstances, gradually extend, cover all thoughts, experiences.
  • Persuasive. Are connected with concrete life situations (fear of height, open space). Easily provoke panic.
  • Crazy. Emergence of fear does not give in to a logical explanation. Communication with an object/situation has unusual, strange character. Example: the child fell, walking in boots – the fear of footwear was created.

Symptoms of children's fears

Since the neonatality period before half a year fears are shown by instinctive start, a zaprokidyvaniye of handles, the general tension, concern. Having been frightened, the kid cries, calling up mother. The loud sound, bright light, loss of a support, bystry approach of an unfamiliar big subject can become a provocative factor. In 6-7 months the feeling of affection for mother is formed. At its long absence the child becomes uneasy. A fear basis – the reaction similar to alarm of loneliness, separation. Similar experiences can remain up to 2,5-3 years. From 8 months there are fears of strangers. Fear is reduced by one and a half years.

Fears of the second year of life are connected with unexpected appearance of strangers, stay at height, pain, a sharp sound, loneliness. From 2 years children begin to be afraid of separate objects – street dogs, moving cars, fire. Three-year age – the period of formation own "I", separations from people around, independent forming of the relations. There is a fear of punishment reflecting understanding of consequences of acts, fear of insufficient attention (love) of the parent.

At preschool children the fear of pain, darkness, the opened/closed space, dangerous objects, punishment, condemnation by parents remains. Fear of fantastic, unreal beings – brownies, skeletons, ghosts, trolls is added. At younger school students, teenagers fears of social interactions prevail. Children are afraid to receive a bad mark, to act publicly, to be subjected to derision, condemnation, rejection.

From 6 years the fear of death as inevitable event, inevitable extremity of life is quite often formed. There is a fear of diseases, accidents, fires, technogenic and natural disasters. Children's fears are shown by changes of behavior, emotions. The child seeks to avoid terrible objects / situations, becomes disturbing, uneasy, whining. Experiences affect health – the sleep is interrupted, appetite decreases, there are pains of various localization (head, abdominal, muscular, articulate, warm).


In the absence of the adequate help of parents, psychologists, teachers children's fears are capable to be transformed to phobias – the expressed intensive reactions of concern, panic. Phobias differ in stability, are often irrational, are provoked by the situations/objects which are not posing a real threat. On the basis of children's fears neurosis of persuasive states (obsessivno-compulsive frustration, persuasive repetition of thoughts and actions) develops. Character of the teenager gains lines of suspiciousness, uneasiness, uncertainty. Any of the listed complications is shown by restrictive behavior, aspiration to avoiding of certain situations, difficulties of social adaptation.


Children's fears become the reason of the address to psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists. Diagnostic process is based on a clinical conversation – children do not hide the experiences, after acquaintance, establishments of contact with the expert tell about the situations causing alarm. For the purpose of objective definition of intensity of fears psychodiagnostic methods are used:

  • Questionnaires. There is a set of the standardized techniques focused on a research of children's fears. To preschool children, younger school students questions are asked directly. Provide to teenagers forms of independent filling – in the absence of control of the young man and the girl answer more honestly. Questionnaires select taking into account age of the child. Use the Technique of diagnostics of children's fears (Zakharov), the Structural questionnaire of children's fears (Akopyan).
  • Projective techniques. At school students apply pictural tests, diagnostic fairy tales, tests of interpretation of situations to inspection of children of preschool age, identification of the extramental, hidden fears. Lack of the structured questions creates more confidential situation between the psychologist and the child, allows to bypass protective mechanisms, fear of condemnation. Widespread techniques – "Draw the fear" (Zakharov), the Fairy tale test (), the Thematic apperceptive test (Murray).

Treatment of children's fears

The help to patients is based on creation of the house situation supporting feeling of tranquility, safety. The psychotherapy methods allowing to realize, process completely negative emotions – concern, alarm, fear are in addition applied. Complex treatment is made by the psychotherapist, the psychologist, the psychiatrist. Includes:

  • Family consultation. Meetings are necessary for identification of the reasons forming and supporting fear. Methods of education, feature of the intra family relations (the conflicts, aggression manifestations) and leisure of the child are discussed. The expert makes recommendations about correction of behavior of parents, preferable ways of interaction with the child.
  • Psychotherapy. Classes are given individually. At the first stage there is a discussion of fears. The confidential conversation partially defuses emotional tensions. At the second stage processing of fears is carried out. The skazkoterapiya method is widespread – a story about fear from the happy-end is invented. Occupations with a creative component are effective – the created fear (the drawing, the molded figure) is remade or ritually destroyed.
  • Reception of medicines. Medicinal therapy is necessary at the expressed, long symptoms. It is applied at the beginning of complex treatment, before positive effect of psychotherapy. The psychiatrist appoints anksiolitik, sedative medicines. The scheme of treatment, a dosage, duration of reception are defined individually.

Forecast and prevention

Over time the child "outgrows" the majority of children's fears. The probability of a favorable outcome increases with the correct parental and psychotherapeutic help. For the prevention of development of fear in the child it is necessary to establish and maintain the confidential relations with it, to refuse demonstration of domination, use of physical force, not to show own uneasiness and fears. It is important to organize correctly leisure, giving preference to mobile and creative occupations in collective, but not to viewing of the TV and virtual games alone.

Children's fears - treatment should be carried out only under the supervision of a doctor. Self-treatment is unacceptable!!!

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