MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Kids who avoid scary situations are more likely to have anxiety problems.

That’s the finding of a Mayo Clinic study.

Mayo researchers surveyed some 800 kids between the ages of 7 and 18, asking if they try to avoid things they’re afraid of.

They also asked parents if their children tried to put off things that scare them.

“And what we found is that the kids that tended to avoid more were more likely to be more anxious about a year later, suggesting that kids who avoid are less likely to learn that their fears are unfounded and more likely to be anxious,” said Mayo Clinic psychologist Dr Stephen Whiteside.

Whiteside says things commonly scary for little kids include separation from parents, dogs and thunderstorms.

For teenagers it’s scary social situations.

In most cases the most effective treatment is so-called “exposure therapy” where young patients learn to stop avoiding things and overcome their fears.