Children get exposed to multisensory experiences, which should be encouraged for development. In the same way that one can develop a love for animals, there will also be people who will generate a fear of animals due to specific reasons.
Zoophobia, or the fear of animals, can be developed for any type of animal. However, some are more common than others, and in extreme cases, a person can develop a fear of all kinds of animals.
Understanding the reason behind a child’s fear of animals can be complicated. Some studies link phobia to genetics and our bodies’ way of processing fear, but common reasons always include a history of negative experiences associated with animals. How can we help our kids overcome their fear of animals?
The commitment to overcome fear should be set at the beginning. For example, agreeing to go to the zoo once a month prepares the child on what to expect, rather than allowing room for excuses to avoid facing their fear altogether.
It’s been said that animals can sense fear in others, so taking the time to expose kids to other people’s pets is easier said than done. Doing some research beforehand about the dog’s temperament or the cat’s domestic habits can be helpful when planning the interaction.
Watching nature documentaries, zoo visits, or hearing animal noises can trigger the child’s phobia. When this happens, stress hormones get released, which then lead to symptoms such as increased heart rate and sweating. Reducing anxiety through meditation, yoga, or aromatherapy can help to introduce self-care habits.
There are plenty of opportunities to seek help from the community, including support groups that have experience dealing with overcoming fear. Parents should consider finding the right one suitable for the child’s age and safety.
When children get regular exercise and sufficient time outdoors, their bodies develop and mature in a balanced state, causing their hormones to be in better shape. A healthy mind and body reduce the symptoms felt from zoophobia or any phobia for that matter.
Practicing compassion will also guide children to overcome their fear of animals. Making fun of them or expressing frustration will only add to their stress, not to mention developing other behaviors and negative experiences associated with animals which can turn the fear into other stronger emotions.
According to medical experts, treating zoophobia can be difficult only because it takes a lot of time and patience. With regular practice, kids should be aware that they can go at their own pace while striving to overcome their fear in order to live a healthy life.