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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5763
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Terrified of children

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For reasons I've never understood, I'm afraid of children. I mean, literally I cannot be around them. I'm almost 47, have obviously not had children myself because of this aversion, and it's caused me many relationship losses, when good men who already had children presented themselves, but I rejected them for having children. Now I've met the best man ever - we are compatible in every possible way. He has children who are 20, 17, and 14. I know I'm going to cut and run soon if I don't get help for my fear. It would be the biggest mistake of my life. There is no material on this phobia available that I have found. I want to change, but I need help! I'm otherwise financially solid,  a homeowner with a great career, many friends, many volunteer causes I'm active with...I'm not antisocial. I'm not usually anxious. Only around kids.

Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

As with any phobia, it is not about what you fear but what you feel when you are around what you fear. Many people fear common things and many fear rare things, such as your fear of children. But the basis for all fears is the reaction you have when you face that feared situation or thing.

The reason you fear children could be a variety of things. Most of the time, the basis of a fear comes from some type of trauma, usually in childhood. You go through a very difficult time, suffer a loss or are abused. What you go through triggers fears and your fear attaches onto an object or situation. That object or situation becomes where you put your fears from then on. So when you face the object of your fear, such as children, you experience a reaction that causes you to feel anxious. When you are anxious, your thoughts are causing your mind to think your in danger, such as when you think about kids or are near them. Your body reacts by releasing adrenaline into your system. Adrenaline cause you to feel the body symptoms that are common with a phobia. It is much like after you have had a bad scare except with phobia, you focus on the feared object or situation rather than the original cause. This causes a loop where you fear children because you fear the response you have when you are around them. They are not something to fear themselves because if that was so, everyone would fear children. So it is what you feel when you are around them that really frightens you.

The good news is that phobias and anxiety are easy to treat with therapy. In therapy, you learn to pay attention to what you are thinking to make yourself anxious when you are around children. The therapist then can help you change your thoughts and therefore how your body reacts to your thoughts when you think about kids or are around them. You also can learn about how to let yourself float through the anxiety you feel around children, thereby gaining more control over how you feel. When anxiety comes on, you allow it to flow over you without tensing or panicking in response. This makes the anxiety reduce or go away faster and therefore makes it easier to be around kids. To find a therapist, talk to your doctor about a referral. Or you can search on line at

You can also help yourself at home. There are numerous resources to help you learn more about phobias and anxiety. Here are some to get you started:

The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne is excellent for any fears. It is self help and contains everything from supplements to relaxation techniques.

The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Anxiety: A Step-by-Step Program by Bill Knaus Ed.D. and Jon Carlson Psy.D. Ed.D.

From Panic to Power: Proven Techniques to Calm Your Anxieties, Conquer Your Fears, and Put You in Control of Your Life by Lucinda Bassett

You can find these books on or your local library may have them for you.

I hope this has helped you,

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Are you able to direct me to any therapists in the Minneapolis area? None advertise as working with this particular phobia. I'm afraid they'll think I'm just a terrible human being for having the phobia, unless they understand it. I've been avoiding people with children my whole life, to avoid the reaction I'd get if they find out. I've spent my whole life rescuing animals to prove I'm not hateful or sociopathic...but no one will believe me if they hear I fear children. Any referrals, would be most appreciated.

No therapist should ever make you feel you are horrible for having this phobia and if they would, switch therapists immediately because it means they do not understand how phobias work at all. There is nothing wrong with you to have this fear. It's not about what you fear but what you feel as a result of your fear that is most important.

Here are a list of therapists in Minneapolis that might be able to help:

To find one in your specific area, put in your zip code.

TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Can I help you any further?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No...most of the therapists have photos of people hugging children, laying on the ground with children, and they offer all sorts of post partum counseling... they will think I'm awful. I'll look at the different listings though, thank you so much.

You may want to check with your doctor for a referral. You can also contact some of the therapists and see if they know someone who can help.


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