Arachnophobia Needn't Affect Your Children
anonymous Asks ...
I have a strong phobia of spiders and bugs. If one lands on me I will scream and panic….(I bug out! Haha…that’s my fallback phobia joke) I have 2 young children and I am clearly teaching them that bugs that a normal person would not consider dangerous are things to be deeply afraid of. I have given up hope of ever living normally with insects but I do not want to pass my problem on to my children. The challenge is that even though I say flies or beetles are not dangerous the way I react when I see one in the house teaches them the exact opposite. They are too young to understand phobias (they are 3 and 5). How can I safeguard them?
David Johnson Says ...
It's great that you recognize the power of your behavior and emotions with your children. However, I don't think that your fear needn't transmit to your children. Even young children are more astute emotionally that many adults assume. They feel everything. Feelings in many ways make more sense to them than abstract concepts.
It sounds like you are trying to keep your reactions at bay in front of them. Even if you react, that won't necessarily teach your children to do the same. Relax about it, share your foible with your children by being open about your initial startling fear and following embarrassment. They understand fear as a feeling and will recognize that you get afraid and then laugh. Then talk to them when you react, let them know that you believe that you have an irrational fear. They will learn an important lesson that what scares them needn't be that way forever. And they may laugh with you in adolescence telling stories about mom's reactions to spiders.