Anxiety affects 10% of all children and disrupts educational, socio-emotional development and overall functioning of the child and family. Research has shown that parenting factors (i.e. intrusiveness, negativity, distorted cognitions) contribute to the development and maintenance of childhood anxiety. Recent studies have therefore investigated if the treatment effect of traditional cognitive behavioural therapy may be enhanced by adding a parental component. However, randomised controlled trials have not shown unequivocal support for this assumption. The results are inconsistent and ambiguous. This article investigates possible reasons for this inconsistency and in particular differences in methodology and the theoretical relevance of the applied parental components are highlighted as possible contributory factors. Another factor is that treatment effect is mainly measured by change in the child's diagnostic status rather than changes in parental or family functioning.