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Aquaphobia - Fear of Water: What Your Kid's Phobias Might Mean

Most phobias originate from early childhood or adolescence, and children live in a big world of things they may not understand, so it’s easy to feel scared. Common childhood phobias include fear of the dark (Nyctophobia), fear of needles (Aichmophobia), and fear of water (Aquaphobia).

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Aquaphobia, Defined

The final listed phobia above presents a multiple problems for parents and children, especially considering regular hygiene and summer activities. By definition, a phobia consists of unrelenting and irrational fear as a direct result of the feared object or circumstance.

Children who experience intense anxiety every time they come near water create (albeit unintentionally) quite the disruption. To attain help, it’s important to understand the origin of such childhood fears.

Image of woman and child in the water. The child is apparently crying. Aquaphobia can start young.
Aquaphobia can start young

What Causes Aquaphobia?

Although there’s no one underlying cause for any mental disorder, certain things might contribute to the development of extreme fear in a child. Typical causes include the occurrence of a traumatic event that cemented an irrational fear in a child’s mind. Psychology and psychotherapy professionals tell us that any traumatic event may lead to a phobia. However, not all phobias originate this way. More commonly, it’s a child witnessing a traumatic event or “third-party traumatic event” that causes the beginning of their irrational fear. Whether real or imagined, this event creates an unrelenting fear that then often requires professional treatment.

If your child witnessed—or even heard of—a traumatic event involving water, this could be the cause of their fears. Even watching the movie Jaws in childhood has resulted in people seeking treatment for Aquaphobia.

How You Can Help

Remember the most important thing is to help your child see that their reality or perceptions aren’t necessarily absolute. Despite feeling deathly afraid of water, the water cannot hurt them.

Take opportunities to show your child how you interact safely with water . This could include washing your hands, swimming, or just wading in a shallow pool. Emphasize that although safety matters near bodies of water, water also helps us accomplish many important tasks and recreational activities.

Seek Professional Help

A trained professional from an can be a safe bet to help your child come to terms with their phobia and find healthy ways to deal with it. As you seek professional help, look for those who have been trained in treating phobias. In sessions you take together, you and your kid can find ways to better understand and treat their phobia.


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