Child's Fear of Insects

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Extreme insect phobia in 8 year old

Aug 2015

My eight-year-old son's fear of insects is worsening and becoming a debilitating factor in our lives. Help! Any recommendations very welcome.

Looking to ease the fear

HI there- My soon to be 9 year old also has an extreme phobia about bugs. But he also has anxiety about many other things: germs, food, people, clothing texture. His teachers and I have been working on this for years, but it seems to be getting worse, not better. I just recently took him to child psychiatry, as I am out of ideas to help him. He is joining an anxiety group session with other kids, and doing one on one counseling to help him face his fears and anxieties. I am not waiting around anymore for this ''phase'' to pass, he is missing out on a lot of life experiences. Is it just bugs for your guy? Or is he afraid of planes, scratchy socks, escalators, etc? As the psychologist works with him, I am learning that it is a way that he thinks about the world, not so much the ''bug'' or the ''germ''. I am hoping that he does not have to feel so vulnerable and anxious all of the time. Good luck. mom to a great but fearful kid

Hi there, I'm a local therapist and thought I'd weigh in-- there are many different ways to look at the development of phobias in children-- one perspective is that phobias are a manifestation of anxiety that arise in response to developmental shifts, transitions and changes in a child's life, environment, etc. While there are behavioral strategies to use to help to quiet your son's fear in the moment, it can also be very helpful to take a step back and look at the big picture of your child's life right now-- what stresses might he be experiencing? Are there situations where he's feeling powerless and out of control? Anxiety can be such an effort at adaptation... though, as you're seeing, it very easily gets out of control itself.

Play therapy can be a great outlet for children dealing with anxiety as it provides a space to look at and address the feelings underneath the anxiety, while helping a child and parents/caregivers develop concrete tools for managing the anxiety/phobia moment to moment. Laila