Extreme Child Phobias: More Than Fear, Sometimes Dangerous, Even Deadly

But those with emetophobia literally fear the act of vomiting and often severely restrict their lives just to avoid the possibility of getting sick. Adults with the problem have had trouble going to work, keeping friends or finding dates.

With children, the fear can interfere with school.

"They might refuse to eat certain things, they might restrict their food, they might be afraid to go in cars or public transportation after eating," said Pincus.

Pincus said that a phobia of vomiting is one of the more common phobias she treats, along with a thunder phobia.

"We've had kids afraid of seaweed, kids afraid of hiccupping, kids afraid of costumed characters," she said.

Childhood Phobias: Pigeons

Pincus confirmed that those harmless, cooing pigeons on the sidewalk are capable of sending some people running in fear.

As most major cities collect a sizeable pigeon population, this particular phobia can keep a person country-bound, limiting careers and travel.

"I treated a child once who was so afraid of pigeons and couldn't go into any major city... she would start climbing on me, or on her parents, or on passersby to be safe," said Pincus. "The minute she walked outside, she used to watch the sky for pigeons in the area."

Using what Pincus calls a "bravery ladder," many anxiety experts ask children to research all possible facts about the object they fear. Then, little by little, the children face their fears until their anxiety dissipates.

"You don't actually have to teach people to relax, in fact it can interfere... the fears have to dissipate," she said. "You need to learn habituation -- you allow new learning to happen in the brain."

Although the pigeon phobia was severe while she had it, Pincus said it was not that difficult to treat.

"The girl who was afraid of pigeons, she went and studied in London," said Pincus. "She sent me postcards over the years of all the places she was with all the pigeons around her."

Childhood Phobias: Allergic Reaction to Peanut Butter

Experts say a common difference between adult phobias and children's phobias may be the ability to rationalize one's fear.

"Adults tend to have more cognitive distortion," said Hartstein. "An adult may say 'Oh I think I'm afraid of dogs, but of course, I should be afraid of dogs' and give a list of reasons why."

Hartstein said children are much more likely to simply say "I'm afraid," without a lot of rationalization.

But having a food allergy may be one case for kids to develop a rationalized phobia.

"I had a girl, who I just treated who had a horrible peanut allergy. So basically she developed this incredibly irrational fear that every food that she had was going to have peanuts in that," said Hartstein.

Hartstein said that treating allergy phobias takes a little extra work to teach the child to take control of their diet and ask strangers a lot of questions about food.

However, for the most part, Hartstein said children's phobias can be easier to treat and have better outcomes than adults.

"You have to challenge the resistance in adults, where in kids are much more trusting," said Hartstein.

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