Cool Little Kids

cool little kidsCool Little Kids is an early intervention program for anxiety and emotional distress that educates parents about how to help and parent their overly anxious, shy or inhibited young child.

Cool Little Kids is for pre-school aged children who are a little more anxious, shy or inhibited, than most other children their age. This program helps parents to learn a number of skills and exercises to reduce excessive anxiety in children and increase confidence.

Topics covered in the program include:

  • the nature of anxiety
  • principles of managing anxious children
  • helping your child overcome his/her anxiety
  • realistic thinking.

Cool Little Kids is an evidence based cognitive behavioural therapy program originally developed by Professor Ron Rapee at the Centre for Emotional Health, Macquarie University Sydney.

Group sessions

boys playing legoCool Little Kids has been delivered as a parenting group program for over 10 years. Group sessions include presentations, skills training, discussions, practical exercises, and home practise tasks to help children manage their fears, shyness and anxiety.

The parenting program runs for 6-8 sessions and helps parents learn how they can best help their child build his or her confidence.

  • Would you describe your child as fearful or sensitive?
  • Is your child shy?
  • Do they have trouble separating from you?
  • Is your child a bit of a worrier?
  • Are they slow to warm up with others?
  • Does your child have difficulty with anxiety, separation, going to preschool, shyness, fears?

Across Melbourne, Cool Little Kids is being delivered for a population level early intervention study (see below).

A new online version of Cool Little Kids is also beginning development (see below). We hope that parents who can't access the group parenting program (e.g. in regional/rural locations) will find this new development helpful.

Cool Little Kids population study across Melbourne


boy scaredThe Cool Little Kids randomised trial aims to test whether screening preschoolers for temperamental inhibition (shyness) across the population and then offering all parents of shy children the group parenting program, prevents children across the population from developing anxiety and emotional problems as they transition into school.


In February 2011, this population study began with 133 preschool services from Banyule, Boroondara, Frankston and Wyndham local government areas. Parents with children in these preschools were invited to complete a brief questionnaire screening for child temperamental inhibition (or shyness), a known potential risk factor for child anxiety problems. Parents of shy children were invited into the randomised trial. Half of these parents were invited to attend the parenting group program to support shy/sensitive children. The other half received usual care (i.e., services already available in the general community).

girls drawingIn 2012, this opportunity was extended to all preschools in eight local government areas (Banyule, Boroondara, Frankston, Kingston, Knox, Maroondah, Whitehorse and Wyndham).

Families are being followed-up as they enter school to see how the parenting group program prevented anxious and emotional problems developing in young children across the population.

Funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.


Assoc Professor Jordana Bayer
Principal Investigator

Dr Margaret Nelson-Lowe
Project Manager
(03) 9479 1257

Cool Little Kids Online

birthday partyAs a group parenting program, Cool Little Kids has been safely and effectively used in Australia for over 10 years. We have recently created an online version 'Cool Little Kids Online' so that more parents are able to access the program and potentially benefit. The online version has 8 content sections ('modules') offering information and activities on how parents can encourage confidence and bravery when young children are fearful or worried.

Pilot study

In 2014 we piloted Cool Little Kids Online with 51 parents to see how they found the new online format. Results from the pilot study were encouraging. Parents gave positive feedback about the program and found it helpful for encouraging brave behaviour in their child. The program was easy to use and 89% of parents would recommend it to others.

New study in 2015

girl sleepingWe have made improvements to the program based on parents' feedback from the pilot study. In 2015 we are conducting a larger evaluation study of the program to see if it effectively reduces child anxiety and emotional distress. Participants can be parents across Australia with shy/sensitive children between 3 and 6 years of age. Parents in this research study will be randomly placed in one of two groups: immediate access to the program, or delayed access after a waiting period.

For more information visit Cool Little Kids Online.

Funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council and the auDA Foundation.


Dr Amy Morgan
Lead Investigator
(03) 9479 5193

Assoc Professor Jordana Bayer
Professor Ron Rapee
Dr Agus Salim
Ms Elli Tamir
Dr Nahal Goharpey
Dr Lauren McLellan