Fear is a feeling every child has from time-to-time. Normal fears can be very strong and make it hard for your child to handle the give-and-take of his days and weeks. Still, these fears do not keep him from doing the kinds of things most children do. At the rough points, a little understanding from you and a good pep talk are enough to get him to get on with getting on.
Two types of fear are very serious, though. The first is fear of separating from home and important adults. The second is less specific. It ranges from being afraid of some things and situations to being afraid most of the time.
Fear of separating is often seen as a fear of going to school but comes up sometimes as a fear of being alone or of being left. For example, it may look like your child is afraid of going to school. There may be a good reason to be afraid of something at school; but be cautious about coming to the conclusion the problem is at school. Usually, school is not something children have any good reason to fear. The truth likely is he does not want to be away from home and fears the separation. Calmly but firmly insist he goes to school. Take him if that is the only way to get him to go. If this does not work, get professional help for him. If he gets quick, specialized help, three or four weeks of behavior therapy usually correct the problem.
Once in a while, children develop extreme and very puzzling fears. What start out as normal fears get so strong they keep your child from doing normal kinds of things. Perhaps your child may start being afraid of things that are not real. He might fear odd things like becoming invisible, turning into a horse, being killed by rays from outer space, or something else just as weird. These fears are likely signs of mental illness and need assessed by a children’s mental health specialist. Note strange or unusual behavior may be related to drug or other substance abuse. Just be sure to stay open to this possibility. The children’s mental health specialist can help evaluate this possibility as part of the more general assessment.