Scared kids risk anxiety later in life

August 5th, 2008 - 11:31 am ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Aug 5 (IANS) Most children tend to relish rides on a rollercoaster or enjoy ghoulish delights of a ghost train. Those who don’t are likely to face problems in later life. These findings surfaced when Queenland’s University of Technology (QUT) asked children if they enjoyed scary activities, and whether parents considered their children excessively fearful.

About 18 percent replied they did not enjoy the activities listed, matching the number of parents who thought their children excessively fearful.

“Something as small as this may signify that they have problems with anxiety,” said Marilyn Campbell, senior lecturer in QUT faculty of education, who carried out the study with colleague Linda Gilmore.

“There is a definite correlation with general fearfulness and anxiety, and not enjoying these scary sorts of activities which are considered fun by most children.

“While it is by no means a diagnosis, it is something which may indicate that parents need to keep an eye on their children to make sure they are not dealing with anxiety issues.

“Anxiety is a terrible thing to suffer through life, and impedes what a person can do, so the earlier we can identify anxiety in kids and teach them to cope, the better,” said Campbell.

For parents who think their children might have a problem with excessive anxiety, Campbell said gradual and consistent desensitisation was the best way to help them overcome fears.

“Giving children coping strategies to deal with their fear of things like ghost trains and scary rides, and helping them overcome that is important,” she said.

“For example, parents could sit with their child on an ordinary train first, then sit with them somewhere dark, then perhaps have games where people jump out and say boo - gradual ways to decrease fear.”

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