Jumping or screaming at a surprising or loud noise is not out of the ordinary for kids or even for adults. When the jump turns into an irrational and ongoing fear of noise or develops into a phobia, it can become a lifelong problem, Mayo Clinic notes. Environmental phobias, which include noise phobias, can develop in children as young as 5 years old.
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Toddlers, kids in preschool or even elementary school can fear noises, says the “Understanding Children: Fears” publication from Iowa State University. The fear often stems from noises that come from unknown objects or sources. The younger set sometimes fears noises from objects like a hair dryer, vacuum cleaner or other device with which they are unfamiliar. Once kids get a bit older, they can become fearful of strange noises around the house when they are home alone.
Kids often mimic what they see and this holds true when it comes to fearing noises, Mayo Clinic says. Children who are constantly around parents or other adults that jump or otherwise react fearfully to noise often learn to react the same way. Kids as young as 5 years old are prone to developing environmentally related phobias that can last throughout their lifetime.
Even if no one around them reacts fearfully to noise, kids can develop fear of noises from other causes, Mayo Clinic and Health Mad note. A traumatic experience involving a noise can burn the trauma into their brain and associate noise with trauma going forward. Noise sensitivity or fear can also stem from an underlying medical condition, genetics or brain chemistry.
Ligyrophobia is the official term for irrational fear of noise, also known as acouticophobia and phonophobia, Health Mad says. A noise phobia goes beyond jumping or reacting fearfully to a noise, but often makes the person avoid noisy situations altogether. In addition to crying, kids with phobias may sweat, get nauseous, shake or hyperventilate. The most severe cases sometimes include panic attacks and acute anxiety.
Several methods can help your kid cope with his fear of noise, “Understanding Children” states. Let him examine the source of the noise, like the vacuum cleaner, before you use it and, if the fear continues, try to use the loud object when your kid is calmer or not around. If your kid is a bit older, teach her some coping skills, like taking deep breaths or investigating noises that scare her to prove they are not dangerous. Childhood fears often disappear as kids get older and learn to cope with them. If the fear of noise continues, however, a trip to the doctor can be in order to rule out medical issues.