Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

Beyond Childhood Fears

WebMD Health News

Feb. 16, 2000 (Atlanta) -- Fire, thunder, snakes, and spiders. These are just a few of the things children develop fears about -- fears that in many cases are a normal part of growing up, and lead to no major psychological problems. But not always. A new study finds that a significant number of children develop full-blown anxiety disorders over some common fears.

Researchers at Maastricht University in the Netherlands came to that conclusion after studying 290 children, ages 8 to 13. They assessed the children's fears in two ways. First, they asked them the question, "What do you fear most?" They then had the children complete a standardized psychological questionnaire that listed some timeless childhood fears, such as getting lost or kidnapped, as well as a modern-day one -- being the victim of a bombing attack.

Left to their own devices, the children ranked "spiders" as the thing they feared most. On the psychological screening, though, spiders ranked 10th -- well behind "not being able to breathe" and burglar break-ins.

Of more concern to the researchers was the percentage of children who showed symptoms of preoccupation and anxiety over their fears. On further examination, they found nearly 50% showed some sign of an anxiety disorder, while about 23% met the full diagnostic criteria for one.

Experts in the field of child psychology say these are important but unsurprising findings. Stephen Garber, PhD, co-author of Monsters Under the Bed and Other Childhood Fears, says it's no wonder more kids are seriously scared these days, given what they're exposed to through the media. "Some kids are just immune to fear. They never met a stranger. But a percentage of kids are just more prone to fear. So when you combine a natural personality trait of being more threat-sensitive [with] an increased level of information about scary things, you see an increase."

He'll get no argument from Joanne Cantor, PhD, professor of communication at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and author of Mommy, I'm Scared: How TV and Movies Frighten Children and What We Can Do to Protect Them. "Certainly kids have the ability to imagine monsters on their own. But the mass media provides an intense dose of things children would not have imagined."

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.

worried kid
jennifer aniston
Measles virus
sick child

Child with adhd
rl with friends
Syringes and graph illustration