Anxiety is a common disorder suffered by many individuals throughout the United States. In fact, it is estimated that roughly 40 million adults suffer from anxiety. If you are among those 40 million people, you are not alone. However, if you are also a parent, you must stop and ask yourself what impact your anxiety is having on your child. As an anxious parent, are you also raising an anxious child?
Parents who suffer from anxiety tend to worry about everything. Although it is common for parents to worry, those who suffer from anxiety can turn a molehill into a mountain. Unfortunately, the incessant worrying can also cause your child to worry unnecessarily. In fact, studies show that children raised by anxious parents are more likely to develop anxiety.
Identifying your source of anxiety, understanding how it contributes to the anxiety of your children, and fixing the problem is your best bet. There are ways you can parent your child while combating your anxious nature. If you notice that your child has already developed signs of anxiety, there are ways you can overcome the disorder together.
Ways Your Anxiety Contributes to the Anxiety of Your Child
There are plenty of ways you may be instilling a sense of anxiety in your child. Keep in mind that while you believe your practices to be for the best, you may be making things worse.
Avoid over-the-top caring. It is only natural for a parent to care for their child. However, you can reach a point of caring too much, especially as an anxious parent. For instance, if your child comes home from school feeling distressed about an incident, you can contribute to feelings of distress by caring too much and overreacting.
Picture your child coming home upset over a bully. If you react and show your child that you feel upset or distressed, you are going to heighten those feelings within your child. Instead, you need to calm your own anxiety and approach the situation as a source of strength.
You should care about your child to show that you are understanding and supportive. However, you should not show that you are upset, worried, or distressed. Instead, let your child speak to you while you remain calm. You must be an emotional rock for your child to ease feelings of anxiety.
Do not overpraise. It is fantastic when parents boast about the successes of their children. You should praise your child when he or she does something great, such as acing a difficult test. However, you can increase the feeling of anxiety by overpraising.
Your child may feel as though you have set grand expectations for performance that he or she cannot fulfill. As such, your child may develop feelings of anxiety. Instead, praise your child for a job well done and leave it at that. Do not continue to make a huge deal of the situation.
As an anxious parent, you may stress over your child’s success. Therefore, you feel the need to overly praise when they do something well. Although you mean well, you are increasing feelings of anxiety within your child.
Do not lie about your troubles. Children are much more aware of their surroundings than you may realize. When you feel stressed and troubled over something, your children pick up on it. Unfortunately, if you tell your child nothing is wrong, you are going to heighten their sense of anxiety.
They can obviously tell something is wrong. If you are an anxious parent, you are not likely good at hiding your feeling anyway. Therefore, your child knows something is wrong but you are hiding that fact. Therefore, your child starts to conjure up all the worst possible scenarios.
Although you should weigh your child down by placing your troubles on their shoulders, you should be honest. If a bill is stressing you out, say so. If you are worried about something at work, let your child know that you are having a tough time with a work-related project.
Be honest with your child, but follow it up with a sense of positivity. Let your child know that everything will be okay and that sometimes people just stress from time-to-time. Help your child understand that it is normal to stress over certain things if you do not let that stress rule your every waking moment.
Aside from the tips listed, you also need to work on decreasing your feeling of anxiety. By decreasing your anxiety, it will be easier for you to decrease the chances of your child developing anxiety. If your child is already displaying symptoms of anxiety, minimizing your anxiety will assist you in helping your child do the same.
Ways you can minimize anxiety include:
- Meditation: Make it a point to spend 15 minutes a day meditating. Meditating daily can restructure the neural pathways in your brain, which makes you more resilient to feelings of anxiety.
- Breathe deeply: Each time you start to feel stressed or anxious, take a 5-minute break. Practice deep breathing exercises throughout that 5 minutes. Close your eyes and breathe in deeply through your nose. Hold your breath for a few seconds and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Imagine that you are pulling in positive energy when you breathe in, and blowing out negative energy when you exhale.
- Ask for help: One of the best ways to combat stress and anxiety is to ask for help. Do not be afraid to confide in friends and family members. Having a dedicated support group to assist you can diminish feelings of anxiety in no time.
- Find a reason to laugh: It is often said that laughter is the best medicine, and that is no lie. Find a reason to laugh when you feel stressed. Make it a point to laugh out loud. Laughter alters the chemicals in your brain by releasing feel-good hormones. By laughing, you are altering your brain to feel less anxious.
If you find that you are still having trouble overcoming the role of an anxious parent, try speaking to a therapist. A therapist can assist you in overcoming feelings of anxiety. A therapist can also help your child overcome feelings of anxiety that may have already developed.
Monica Ramunda is a solution-focused therapist with an office located in Louisville, Colorado for in-office visits. With a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and more than 16 years experience in therapy and counseling, Monica works as both a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Registered Play Therapist (RPT) with adults and children respectively. Much of Monica’s success is based on her eclectic orientation and drawing on a wide range of different approaches and techniques all while remaining strongly grounded in the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT).