Emetophobia in Children: Introduction
You may be asking what exactly is emetophobia in children? This is the fear of throwing up, or the fear of being near someone else who is throwing up. Some children with the phobia can experience it so severely that they do not want to attend school or social functions for fear that they or someone else may vomit.
Emetophobia in Children: Proactive Steps to Deal with it
Fears all have one thing in common. The person experiencing the fear is not in full control once panic sets in. But they can be helped.
It is important that a caregiver or parent does not over react when a child throws up or belittles them.
Quickly clean them up and be loving and comforting as much as they will let you. Remember they are totally panicking! So you must keep calm, something that will help to pacify and soothe the child.
Once your child is at ease talk to him or her and redirect their thinking to something that can help them overcome their fear.
Explain to your child that each time they are sick, the body gets stronger and this protects them from illness and helps to ward off attack from germs. My son was comforted by the idea that his body was eliminating the bad bugs that were making him sick.
You can even make charts that will visually help your child feel they are gaining ground over their emetophobia, so that they don’t worry as much about being sick. For instance if they are ill but do not throw up then mark it on the chart as a success.
Even if your child throws up because of fear each time they are sick still keep reminding them that they are getting stronger. You may draw a picture on the chart of your child and a shield holding a list of all the times they were sick and let this show them getting stronger! Allow them to color or write on the picture. You could even add balloons or glitter. Use your imagination, and let your child use theirs and begin moving past the fear together!
It is also a good idea to keep a child with emetophobia busy, especially if they tend to sit and worry. This can help them to stop thinking about the fear that creeps into their mind during quiet moments. If they have a lot of things to be excited about each day, the odds of letting the phobia overtake them will be so much less. Think about it, when you have something that worries you, you tend to worry when you are alone and sitting quietly by yourself. This is true of children too.
One final thought: Never let bullies, siblings, or those without sensitivity poke fun or pick on a child who is suffering with emetophobia. This does not do anything to help correct the situation. Babying or giving too much attention to it can also backfire as well. Balance is the key.
Author’s own experience.
Photo pages one and two: Wikimedia Commons-Public Domain