Student Rirhandzu Marivate gets a closer look at a rain spider, one of the biggest non-tarantula spiders in the world, during an exhibition aimed at educating the public about the life and environment of spiders, bees, ants, worms, scorpions and other bugs, animals and plants at the Life Sciences Museum at Wits University in Johannesburg, Monday, 29 September 2008. The exhibition ends on September 30th. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

London - If you’re a parent who is petrified of flying, you can add another fear to your list: passing your irrational phobia on to your children.

More than one million British children aged eight to 12 have inherited their parents’ fears of heights, birds, spiders, snakes, dentists or flying, according to a new survey.

Dr Arthur Cassidy of the British Psychological Society says: “A growing body of research indicates a strong correlation between specific anxieties, fears and phobias present in adults and those in their children.”

Does that mean phobias are passed on genetically? Not necessarily, says Dr Cassidy. “If parents are obviously nervous around, say, spiders, then children mimic their behaviour.”

To overcome your phobia, Cassidy suggests picturing the source of your anxiety in your mind, until you can face the reality without terror. - Daily Mail