Facing the fear decreases anxiety in children

Scared child (Credit: Unknown)

Main Point: Researchers found that the children who avoid scary situations have more anxiety disorders.

Journal: Behavior Therapy

Study Further:

In this study, researchers worked on more than 800 children in the age range of 7 to 18. Researchers developed two questionnaire reports, i.e. the Children’s Avoidance Measure Parent Report and the Children’s Avoidance Measure Self Report, where they asked the children’s avoidance tendencies, such as, in addressing parents, “When your child is scared or worried about something, does he or she ask to do it later?” and in addressing children they asked, “When I feel scared or worried about something, I try not to go near it.”

Researchers found that avoidance behavior could help to predict the development of anxiety in children. They reported that the children, who described avoidance behaviors in the start of the experiment, tended more anxious after one year. Researchers found decline in anxiety disorders in 25 anxious children, who were slowly exposed to the fearful situations as psychotherapy i.e. a type of Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

“This new approach may enable us to identify kids who are at risk for an anxiety disorder,” said lead author Stephen Whiteside, Ph.D., a pediatric psychologist.

“And further, because cognitive behavior therapy focuses on decreasing avoidance behaviors, our approach may also provide a means to evaluate whether current treatment strategies work they we think they do.”

“Even after controlling for their baseline anxiety, those who avoided had more anxiety than kids who didn’t avoid,” he said. “That was consistent with the model of how anxiety disorders develop. Kids who avoid fearful situations don’t have the opportunity to face their fears and don’t learn that their fears are manageable.”

Source: MayoClinic


Whiteside, S., Gryczkowski, M., Ale, C., Brown-Jacobsen, A., & McCarthy, D. (2013). Development of child- and parent-report measures of behavioral avoidance related to childhood anxiety disorders Behavior Therapy DOI: 10.1016/j.beth.2013.02.006

Usman Zafar Paracha

Usman Zafar Paracha is a sort of entrepreneur. He is the author of "Color Atlas of Statistics", and the owner of an Android game "Faily Rocket."