Preventing Anxiety in Children of Anxious Parents

Weekly hour-long sessions helped parents learn how to prevent anxiety in their own children. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center have found that a family-based program reduced symptoms and the risk of developing an anxiety disorder among these children.


The program was found to be effective in as little as 8 weeks. It's designed to help parents identify and change behaviors believed to contribute to anxiety in the children, while at the same time teaching children coping and problem-solving skills.

Despite its small size, the study suggests that as few as eight weekly family sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy go a long way to prevent or minimize the psychological damage of childhood anxiety. Results of the study will appear in the June issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.“If psychiatrists or family doctors diagnose anxiety in adult patients, it’s now clearly a good idea that they ask about the patients’ children and, if appropriate, refer them for evaluation,” says senior investigator Golda Ginsburg, Ph.D., a child psychologist at Hopkins Children’s and associate professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “Right now, most doctors don’t think about this, let alone broach the subject.”



Ginsburg says data show that the children of parents diagnosed with an anxiety disorder are up to seven times more likely to develop an anxiety disorder themselves, and up to 65 percent of children living with an anxious parent meet criteria for an anxiety disorder.



The parental behaviors modified with treatment included overprotection, excessive criticism and excessive expression of fear and anxiety in front of the children. The program targeted such childhood risk factors as avoiding anxiety-provoking situations and anxious thoughts.

Source: Johns Hopkins
Image source: Laura Burlton








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