It's OK for kids to experience scary situations, Mayo study says

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New Mayo Clinic research has found that children who avoid scary situations are more likely to have higher anxiety later in life, Mayo officials say.

The study of more than 800 children ages 7 to 18 was published this month in Behavior Therapy. Mayo reports that one of the most surprising findings was that measuring children's avoidance of scary situations can predict children's development of anxiety.

"This new approach may enable us to identify kids who are at risk for an anxiety disorder," lead author Stephen Whiteside, a pediatric psychologist with the Mayo Clinic Children's Center, says in the press release.

The findings are interesting for any parent who has debated whether it is better to pull a child out of a nerve-racking situation or to prod the child to overcome his or her fear, the Star Tribune reports.

Doctors said the findings reinforce the need for parents to present their children with opportunities to learn resilience, the newspaper reports.

“It’s OK for your child to be upset sometimes,” Whiteside told the newspaper. “It’s valuable for them to struggle and persist. Being a good parent doesn’t mean your child is always happy.”

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