It is entirely normal for a child to have fears. Nobody is entirely sure why phobias develop. Sometimes it is in response to a specific event, but more often it just grows from a small dislike into something that has a significant impact on the sufferer's life. It should come as no surprise that the three most common childhood phobias are spiders, monsters, and the dark. However, there are many other children out there who have much more singular phobias, many of which are carried into adulthood.
In fact, it’s entirely normal for an adult to have phobias, too. I don’t know about you, but I spend half my waking hours afraid that something is about to go wrong, or that any minute now everyone is going to discover I have no idea what I’m doing.
Phobias, however, are different from fears. Reid Wilson, Ph.D., spokesman for the American Psychological Association told WebMD, "Phobias involve the experience of persistent fear that is excessive and unreasonable, and to be defined as a phobia, the fear must cause some level of impairment.”
So, if a spider crawls across the floor and you jump up on the sofa screaming, that is fear. If you will not leave your house because you might see a spider and your fear will overwhelm you, that is a phobia.
20 Podophobia: Don’t Play “This Little Piggy”
Can you imagine what life might be like if you were scared of feet? Not just creeped out a little by long wiggly toes, or the second toe being longer than the big toe - yes that’s a thing - but full on, terrified at the sight of a foot.
For some children it is specific to other peoples feet, for others it is all feet, including their own. How do you even begin to function when you can’t look at or touch your own feet? It might seem harmless but children who have podophobia, the fear of feet, can get to the stage where infections develop because they won’t take their socks off. Some children will even sleep in their shoes to avoid accidentally waking in the night and catching a glimpse of their feet.
19 Globophobia: Popping With Anxiety
For some of us the popping of a balloon means a brief jump, then it is forgotten. For others, an air-filled globe of rubber exploding at a children's birthday party is the first stage of a life suffering from globophobia, the fear of balloons.
It’s easy to see how this might happen. One popped balloon and a child becomes tense, waiting for the next, building up fear until the kiddo is in a mental place where even the sight of a deflated balloon is enough to provoke a severe anxiety attack. These kids are prevented from attending birthday parties, special events, even theme parks -- basically anywhere that they might see a balloon.
18 Urophobia: To Pee Or Not To Pee
The fear of regular bodily functions seems to be especially curious. How can someone become scared of what they have to do to survive?
While, like other phobias, Urophobia - the fear of urinating - can develop spontaneously it is more often associated in children with an event the child found traumatic. This could be something like experiencing pain due to a urine infection or becoming embarrassed after wetting themselves in public. This, in turn, leads to tension when the feeling of the need to pee hits.
Children with a urinary tract infection will try to hold onto their wee to prevent experiencing pain which leads to increased issues with infection. Meanwhile, children who are phobic about the possibility of wetting themselves may refuse to leave the house.
17 Monophobia: Don’t Leave Me
It is not unusual for a child to go through a period of experiencing separation anxiety and this stage can begin anywhere between six to seven months and three years. It is actually a healthy sign that a little one has formed an emotional attachment to their caregiver, and the child’s social and emotional development has progressed to a stage where they understand they need a particular person to feel safe and that person can sometimes leave.
When a child becomes irrationally afraid of being left alone, it is called monophobia. Some are so severely affected that they might experience lightheadedness, chest pain and even an inability to distinguish between reality and imagination.
16 Alektorophobia: Clucking Heck
You can find plenty of amusing videos online where horrible children torment chickens, and then the chicken flips out, turns around, and chases the kid away in a flurry of squawking, wing flapping and if they are unlucky, a good pecking.
After this, it would be understandable for a child to dislike or be afraid of chickens. However, on occasion this fear bubbles away, making the child ever more anxious every time they think about the experience. Eventually, it brews into a full-on medical condition, alektorophobia In these cases, a child might become hysterical, merely by the sight of a chicken on the TV.
15 Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia: Say What?
In a fit of evil genius, sadism, or extreme irony, someone named the fear of long words, wait for it, Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia. I know, right? The first time I saw that I had to check on a few different websites just to make sure I wasn’t falling into a phobia prank trap.
It is difficult to imagine how this might be a thing until you do a little research and discover it is most often found in people who have dyslexia, or other learning difficulties which make reading or writing longer words especially tricky.
14 Somniphobia: Don’t Send In The Sandman
Sleeping is a surprisingly complicated process which we do not yet fully understand. When we are off in the land of nod, we go through a number of sleep cycles. After dozing off, we go into a deep sleep, through dreaming and back up into a lighter level of rest again with each period lasting approximately 90 minutes.
When we are in the dreaming part of the cycle the brain stops the body from moving, so we don’t act out of dreams and hurt ourselves but a few people experience this sleep paralysis as they are drifting off, and still half awake. According to a 2016 study from the University of Minnesota, somniphobia is a particular fear, of falling asleep.
13 Kinemortophobia: The Undead? Unreal
You could argue that any fear of zombies could be considered irrational. With them being fictional creatures and everything, it can only be classified as a phobia if it also has an adverse effect on a person's life.
Your older kids showing their younger sibling a clip of a zombie movie and scaring the bejesus out of him doesn’t automatically make it Kinemortophobia. However, if your traumatized tot then begins to refuse to participate in social activities in case they see a zombie, then it may have developed into a full-blown problem.
12 Emetophobia: Calling On The Porcelain Telephone
I have yet to meet the person who doesn’t hate vomiting. That horrible moment when your mouth starts to flood with drool, your stomach muscles clenching and then the arrival of that uncontrollable spasm as your body tries to part ways with your last meal.
According to a Columbia University study just looking at certain foods, especially if it is the last thing you ate before you last threw up can be enough to set off the cycle of panic and fear. Emetophobia is sometimes the fear of vomiting because of the actual physical event, or it can also apply to the fear of vomiting and the associated embarrassing that might cause if it happens in public.
11 Disposophobia: But I Need It
More frequently seen in adults, where it is often seen as hoarding, disposophobia is the fear of getting rid of or losing your belongings. Little ones who are suffering from this phobia are frequently the children of adult sufferers. Being brought up in a home where fear is the natural response to throwing something away, or losing an item, no matter how inconsequential can teach these kids to react in the same way.
That doesn’t mean that other parents can’t find themselves in a position where their child is terrified of disposing of anything. Just like any other, this phobia can arise spontaneously, apparently from nowhere.
10 Acrophobia: Way Up High
A fear of heights is not, as is often thought, the same as vertigo. Being afraid when you are high up, or when you are not very high, but close to an edge you could fall from is acrophobia, while vertigo is the sensation of spinning while you are not moving.
Experiments have shown even the smallest children, and many other mammals have a fear of heights, and it is thought to be an evolved response to save us from danger. It is also believed that the way in which our brains process information plays a part.
9 Symmetrophobia: Straight, Matching Or Not?
A handful of unfortunate people have symmetrophobia, a morbid and irrational fear of symmetry. This can manifest itself as a compulsive need to move the tables at either end of the sofa to ensure they don't match or something similar. Sufferers cannot bare the order of items displayed in an even fashion and will respond with the physical symptoms of terror when faced with them.
On the flip side, there is asymmetriphobia, the fear of uneven or mismatched items. One child who had asymmetriphobia was unable to go outside for fear he would see someone with odd socks. He would not even open the door to his home, in case the caller was wearing something mismatched.
8 Nomophobia: A New Generation Of Fears
Your grandparents would never have had to deal with a child who had nomophobia, but you might. The fear of being without a smartphone is a relatively new phenomenon but one that psychologists are beginning to see cropping up in children.
Those kids are scared of physically being without their phone, as well as being out of a cell phone coverage area, or of their battery dying. This is often an excessive response to the worry of being out of contact with their friends, not knowing what is going on socially, or being outcasts if they are “out of the loop.”
7 Koumpounophobia: Button It
It might seem easy to avoid particular fastenings on your own clothes, but that doesn’t make life easy for those with koumpounophobia, the feelings of horror caused by buttons. Not only are you suddenly restricted in the clothes you can buy for a child with this fear but you have to vet anything anyone else buys for them.
Your entire family might have to go button-free, and your movements might be controlled by your child's fears. Even seeing a button on the TV might set off a severe anxiety attack and these kiddos have a tough time coping with school or any social activities.
6 Frigophobia: Chill Out
Those who have frigophobia, the fear of the cold, will report hideous pain in response to the slightest chill and panic at the thought of becoming chilled in any way.
Children might wear multiple layers of clothes, demand excessive bed covers and hot drinks and are even in danger of becoming burnt or scalded in their compulsive need to avoid the cold. This phobia is more frequently found in Eastern cultures where belief in the principles of yin and yang hold that exposure to the cold is related to stomach ache, heartache and a loss of vitality.
5 Mysophobia: You Bug Me
One phobia that is more easy to develop in response to your experiences at home, especially in an overzealous dirt busting environment, is mysophobia, the irrational fear of germs. Teaching a child to wash their hands before meals and when they get home is one thing, but a little one who is raised in a home where the slightest speck is immediately pounced on and antibacterial agents are their moms' best friend can become overly anxious about becoming ill through contact with germs.
As a consequence, this super clean kiddo can develop skin conditions in response to over washing of the hands or overuse of hand sanitizers as well as avoiding going anywhere they fear is “dirty.”
4 Bananaphobia: Gotta’ Split
An extremely rare condition bananaphobia is the, yes you guessed it, fear of bananas. Pulling up YouTube and watching cats jump three feet into the air because they turn around and see a banana is funny, having a child who is nauseous with fear at the sight of the tasty yellow fruit, not so much. Most sufferers are only panicked by the sight of actual, in the flesh bananas, but one or two are left trembling with fear at something as simple as a small logo or a cartoon banana.
3 Pediophobia: Hey There Doll
The fear of dolls is one of the more understandable phobias. This beady little eyes staring out, watching you, waiting until you are asleep to come alive and get you, ahhhhhh.
Sorry, got a little distracted there. Where was I? Oh yes, pediophobia, the irrational fear of dols which is actually a very broad phobia that includes the fear of mannequins, puppets, robotic figures, waxworks and any other doll-like item.
This doesn’t mean that all sufferers are scared of all things. In fact, some are only scared of particular forms of dolls such as one with a porcelain face or a doll that walks.
2 Pseudodyshagia: Tough To Swallow
Sufferers of milder pseudodyshagia are afraid of choking on something they are swallowing while sufferers of the severe form are afraid of consuming anything at all.
For those who have the more moderate form, it is often a particular item they fear, such as medications, a nut, or another kind to food. If the condition progresses to the full form where swallowing anything is avoided, a child may end up in the hospital being fed by tube while psychological intervention tries to get to the root of the problem.
1 Trypophobia: What Holiness Is This?
You can find endless photoshopped images of the holes on lotus pods being superimposed on people and everyday objects. This is usually enough to see most peoples stomachs turning because there is a primeval fear that is prodded by the sight of tiny, dark holes in which something may be lurking.
Trypophobia is diagnosed when this goes a step further and sufferers are actually physically ill at the sight of an item with small holes or large pores, experiencing trembling, nausea, and hyperventilating so strongly they have to flee.
This may not sound like much of a problem, but I speak from experience when I say, a child with trypophobia can be terrified by the most random items such as a bath sponge, strawberries, honeycomb-shaped cereal or pasta, or the drain in the shower. The fact that it is not a particular item, but rather a cluster of holes, or sometimes bumps, that trigger the phobia, makes it more difficult to avoid than most.
References: kidshealth.org, anxietybc.com, chop.edu, childrenshospital.org, mentalhealthamerica.net