News & Opinion | March 20, 2019 5:00 am

Parents Who Go To Therapy Could Help Their Kids Be Less Anxious

Experts say parents’ behavior could make kids more anxious.

Kids have strong opinions about what their parents share. (Getty Images)
Kids have strong opinions about what their parents share. (Getty Images)

Parents who seek out therapy for themselves could actually help their kids becoming less anxious people, VICE reports.

According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Childhood and Adolescent Psychiatry, researchers found that parents of kids with anxiety disorders who were offered treatment can be just as helpful as the kids getting treatment themselves.

Eli Lebowitz, the study’s author and the associate director of the Anxiety and Mood Disorders Program at the Yale Child Study Center, says: “Children naturally rely on parents when they are feeling scared and parents naturally want to protect their children and to help them to be safe and to feel good,” but it’s up to the parent to know when to indulge the child’s anxiety.

“Every child anxiety symptom is likely to have a matching accommodation on the part of the parents.” Lebowitz explained. “These accommodations are well-intentioned but tend to lead to more anxiety over time and to greater impairment for both the child and the family overall.”

In the study, kids with anxiety disorders received cognitive-behavioral therapy, while another group did not. The group of kids without therapy had parents who participated in a program called “Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions” or SPACE.

After 12 weeks, the study found that kids who received therapy had just as much benefit as the kids who did not go to therapy but their parents did.

“That means that children whose parents did SPACE and who never directly met with the therapist felt they had as much benefit as children who met directly with a skilled therapist for 12 sessions,” Lebowitz said.