Introduction

Specific phobia, a form of anxiety, is an intense fear of a specific object or situation that’s generally considered harmless by most people. Fears are common in childhood, and many childhood fears, such as fear of the dark, monsters or being left alone, are usually outgrown. For some children and teens, however, fears can become severe. If a fear is excessive and persists it may be a phobia. Children may develop symptoms of specific phobia as young as age five, especially phobias related to the natural environment, such as spiders, darkness, loud noises, animals, or bodily injury. Older children develop fears of injections, needles, natural events, heights, escalators or enclosed spaces. While adolescents and adults with phobias realize that these fears are irrational, children may not recognize that the fears are excessive or unreasonable. Phobias are different from usual fears; they are irrational, don’t decrease with reassurance and interfere with a child’s life.