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As a parent, it can be painful to watch your kids struggle, be rejected or face failure of any kind, but despite how much you just want to wrap them in your arms and escape the pressures of life it can be a much better choice to encourage them to face their fears head-on. A new study shows that parents who push their kids to take risks can end up help prevent them from being anxious.

Researchers from Macquarie University’s Centre for Emotional Health, the University of Amsterdam and the University of Reading found a link between parenting that encouraged safe risk-taking in kids and a minimized risk of developing childhood anxiety disorders. The study surveyed 312 families with preschool-aged kids in Australia and the Netherlands and concluded that encouraging kids to push through their comfort limits led to significantly fewer signs of anxiety.

For the purpose of the study, safe risk-taking included things like “engaging in rough-and-tumble play or letting them lose a game.” It also involves situations where parents encourage kids to engage in unfamiliar situations. “While this isn’t a cure for anxiety, and we cannot at this stage determine causality, the results are promising in terms of parent education. By gently encouraging their kids in a reasonable way to push their limits, parents could be helping to reduce their child’s risk of developing an anxiety disorder, which is a great insight,” said Professor Jennie Hudson, Director of Centre for Emotional Health at Macquarie University and co-author of the study.

Do you think it’s important to push your kids to go outside their comfort zone? Share your thoughts in the comments.


—Shahrzad Warkentin



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