Not just getting hurt or falling sick is what can probably go wrong with your kid, at times a certain disorder or phobia can cause him to panic in a certain situation. Claustrophobia is an anxiety disorder. It is an irrational fear of being stuck in a small place or room. So, if your kid is afraid of being unable to escape a small place or panics in elevators and crowded places, he may be having this disorder. As simple as it sounds, it is not easy going with the one who has it, so as a parent you need to be aware of whether your child is suffering from a particular disorder and what are the possible reasons for it.
Around 5-7% people around the world are suffering from Claustrophobia as per studies, so if your kid is one of them and here is all you need to know about Claustrophobia in kids.
In this article:
A Guide for Claustrophobia in Children
Causes of Claustrophobia in Children
Well, the term claustrophobia comes from the Latin word claustrophobia which means “a closed-in place” and “phobos” which is a Greek word and it means fear.
So, the probable reasons for having claustrophobia is any experience in the past which makes them associate to small places with a sense of danger. Any incidence of being trapped in a place, bullied, or being lost in a crowded area. Some children suffer from Claustrophobia because their parents are also claustrophobic.
The trauma experienced at any of these situations makes a person’s body conditioned to react irrationally at any similar situation. This is termed as classical conditioning.
Another reason why your kid can turn out to be claustrophobic is because he has a small amygdala, which is that part of the brain which controls the body’s reaction in fear or the flight-or-fight response of the body.
Symptoms of Claustrophobia in Children
Claustrophobia includes certain emotional and physical reactions to situations that triggers the phobia.
If your child is in a small area or crowded place or even thinks about any such place, it can trigger in them the fear of not being able to get out to it. So, they feel short of breath and distressed. The common symptoms are as follows:
- Sweating and chills down the body
- Dryness in the mouth
- Fast heartbeat and high blood pressure
- Hot flashes
- Feeling dizzy or he may even faint
- Over breathing or breathlessness
- Trembling due to fear
- Feeling of having “butterflies” In the stomach
- Headache and numbness
- Nausea or a choking sensation
- Muscular tension increases
- Urge to go to the bathroom
A claustrophobic person begins to look for exits, feels anxious if all the doors are closed, avoids traveling in heavy traffic and avoids elevators.
So, you must pay attention to your kid and if any of these symptoms appear in him, you need to check with the doctor. Well, there are certain places such as elevators, changing rooms, subway trains, airplanes, MRI scanners, or rooms with small windows, that can trigger claustrophobia in your kid.
Treatment for Claustrophobia in Children
The symptoms of claustrophobia generally appear in childhood or adolescence, so once you confirm that your kid is claustrophobic, here are certain ways of treating it.
To get your child out of this fear, you need to rush to your psychologist. Some of the best ways to treat claustrophobia are:
Antidepressants and relaxants are suggested to tackle the symptoms but they are not able to eradicate the problem totally. Drugs only suppress the symptoms, so they can be an immediate aid but not a permanent solution.
Cognitive Behavioural Theory
This process requires time and patience as the psychologist tries to retrain your child’s mind, so they do not feel the fear anymore. It includes putting them into situations that trigger their fear and helping them deal with the fear. This treatment is a long term solution to claustrophobia, but it requires perseverance and time. Observing others tackling their fear can reassure your child that they can go through it.
Relaxation and Visualization Therapy
Taking deep breaths, doing exercise that relax your muscles and meditating regularly can help your child get rid of the negative thoughts and anxiety. So anytime he feels anxious, remind him to take deep breaths.
Natural Medicines to Manage Anxiety
Lavender oil can calm your kids anxiety to some extent. Some supplements and natural products also help in managing panics.
Claustrophobia can bother you kid for long and can even get serious as he grows up, so you must make sure to get the right treatment. It normally takes ten weeks to overcome this phobia. So, with firm determination and proper treatment, you kid can get rid of this anxiety disorder.
So, all you will have to do as a parent is standing by your kid as he endures the symptoms of claustrophobia unless he has endured them enough that it never bothers them anymore. Along with this, you must make him believe that bad feelings and thoughts will go away and divert their thoughts every time you notice that their fear is being triggered. Making them feel safe in a particular situation is your responsibility as a parent.
This is all you can do to get your child out of the fear of being stuck in a small place, that is, claustrophobia. There are no methods to prevent it but proper treatment can help you cope up with it. Happy Parenting!!