In A Better You, Phobias & Fears

Fear of Bugs

Fear of bugs involves an irrational fear of insects and bugs even when there are no bug infestations or bites occurring. Many children, teens, and adults are afraid of insects of some type. This is normal to be afraid, cringe, and perhaps runaway when seeing bees, wasps, spiders, cockroaches and mosquitos. A phobia often involves a persistent effort to avoid insects at all cost by staying inside even when they are not present.

Often a fear of insects involves a high level of fear and anxiety. A condition where the fear of bugs becomes excessive is when the person is afraid of skin infestations or parasites. This can lead to excessive cleaning and often is a sign of deeper problem. Still when the phobia makes it hard for children to function in every day life this is indeed a fear that must be dealt with.

Helping With the Fear of Bugs Early On

Parents and families can take young children to zoos, natural history museums, and nature centers that deal with bugs. For example the Los Angles Natural History museum has a live insect exhibit. Here workers bring out insects and let children touch them. It lowers their level of fear of bugs and puts them in a more positive light.

Laura Mendick a psychiatrist at Boston’s Children’s Hospital says that when a fear of bugs interferes with a child’s life then it must be addressed. When a child screams if she see a bug or refuses to play outside because of them it often becomes a problem. She tell parents that their reaction to bugs often helps or hurts their child. If you have a phobia of bugs, you can often pass this on to your child.

Its important to teach children safety around bugs but not to scare them so they don’t want to go outside. What is the fear of bugs called? It is often called entomphobia which means fear of insects and crawling creatures.When dealing with kids with fear of insects, praise the child when they are able to cope with going outside and start looking at ants or other insects.

You can set up a behavioral chart where the child gets a sticker as a reward for coping well with the fear of bugs. One form of therapy used with children or teens that have a fear of bugs is desensitization which exposes the child to their fear over a period of time so they get used to them. It might start with showing a child a cartoon of a bug or picture in a book. After that the child may be given a book about bugs to look at.

Children that are involved in desensitization therapy might be shown a video about bugs followed by a visit to a nature center or zoo. All these techniques are geared to make the child less afraid of the bugs. By exposing them to anxiety provoking situation they eventually makes them less afraid of the fear.

Symptoms and Treatments

The fear of insects leads to symptoms in children like heart palpations, dizziness, weak legs, sweating, dry throat, and feeling sick. Children often have a fear of stinging insects like bees and wasps. This come from from experience or hearing about it. Children with fear of bugs often feel like they want to escape from the room. The fear ranges from very mild to strong in children.

The causes of the fear of bugs is often not known. The most important thing to do is to work on controlling it so the child does not become so fearful they do not want to go outside or it limits activity. Desensitization therapy is a good way to help kids with the fear of bugs. Many doctors and hospitals can recommend programs for this treatment.

If a child has a fear of spiders therapy often involves having the child look at black and white photos of spiders. The next step is to look at color photos in a book followed by a video. It is important to talk with your child about the fear. Ask them what scares them about spiders? Another tactic is to put a dead spider is a glass jar to have the child look at. It can be from a distance at first than close up according to Professor M. Mark who wrote the book Phobias and Rituals. Finally having a live spider in a jar that a child can look at close range is the goal of the therapy.

At times doctors and therapists may prescribe medications to help the child with anxiety and fear when performing this therapy. Fear of bees and wasps are often associated with being stung. Therapy for this particular insect may involve looking at them from a closed window and going outside where they are looking at them from a distance. A fear of wasps and bees is harder to overcome due to the fear of being bit.

Parents should talk with their kids about what it is that makes them afraid of insects. When the fear of bees phobia is strong discussing the feelings and fear help with desensitization and cognitive therapy. Parents can read books to kids about insects in which they are afraid. Fiction or nonfiction gives them information and lets them know whats working.

If your child’s fear is not very intense you can do exercises yourself with the help of a friend or relative. Often patience is needed to tackle a fear of bugs phobia. It might be a good idea to talk with your general doctor about your child’s phobia before trying out any activities on your own. This is especially true where the fear factor is high.

Relaxation techniques can help children like deep breathing when dealing with fear of insects. Often cognitive therapy is another method of treating the fear. This therapy focuses on learning to control thoughts and thinking differently about bugs. It might mean using some of the desensitization technique along with changing thought patterns.

When seeing a doctor for a phobia or fear the doctor will not uses any diagnostic tests. He or she will ask questions and evaluate the child on medical, social and psychiatric history. It will be based on the Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association. That is why a hospital or doctor can help recommend the right treatment in case where the fear of bugs is severe.

There are some forms of fear of bugs that are part of serious psychiatric illnesses such as manic depression and schizophrenia. In these cases patients believe the skin to be infested with bacteria, worms and other insects. Most often the patient is not infested but believes they are. This is an extreme form of the fear on insects and not often found in many children or teens.

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