Worrying is part of being a parent. It’s completely normal to have some concerns about your child and your parental skills. I am constantly overthinking what I do and how I do it. Parental anxiety is where our worries turn into more irrational thinking. I put together this post and guidance based on research to help you try and combat these anxieties.
When irrational thoughts occur it can become paralysing for both the adult and child. At worst, the child may either pick up on their parent’s fears and become anxious themselves, or they may be prevented from living a rich childhood with normal levels of curiosity and emotional growth.
Read on for a guide to beating parental anxiety.
Accept that you’re worried
Facing up to the fact that you have parental anxiety is a positive first step. Some of the most difficult to address cases are when adults deny that they are concerned or fearful, instead choosing to pretend otherwise. A parent in denial tends to feel constantly stressed, and will prevent their child from taking part in activities that are normal and healthy for children to take part in.
Regarding common worries, they typically include worries about your child’s future (university, life after high school), your child’s self-esteem, your child’s success, but also your ability to help. You need to accept that these worries are normal, but also that some of them are beyond your control.
Once you’ve accepted that you’re fearful, you can then start to unpack the details and address your parental anxiety.
Address rational fears with practical solutions
Some of your fears may stem from rational concerns, even if parental anxiety has led them to grow out of proportion. Writing down what is worrying you can really help to identify individual issues, rather than merging them into one big panic, as human brains have a tendency to do when overwhelmed.
Once you’ve listed everything you can think of (and try to be brutally honest with yourself – no one else has to see the list if you don’t want them to), try to identify what is rational, and then, what practical steps you could take to address each item.
For example, if you have a pond in your back garden and are worried about the risk of drowning, this will understandably be causing you anxiety. A practical step might be to build a fence around the pond, with a lockable gate so that your child can never access the pond without your permission.
Try anti-stress techniques
Sometimes, parental anxiety can stem from a more general experience of stress and anxiety. Consider trying mindfulness or being ‘in the moment.’ You can do this with your child, such as going to a yoga class together.
Spend 30 seconds concentrating only on the sounds you can hear around you or go for a walk and focus only what you see in front of you. Regularly make time to enjoy a hobby that you find relaxing, for example walking or painting.
Having quality ‘you time’ can drastically improve overall mental health. If you’re feeling anxious but are reluctant to take prescribed medication, consider trying Health Products such as herbal remedies.
Teach your child how to handle anxiety
Children with anxious parents can sometimes develop their own anxieties. Of course, each child has their own personality, and some become anxious even when their parents are not. A healthy step for both of you might be to discuss how to handle anxiety without avoiding doing things or putting them off. Teaching your child how to cope with everyday worries might help both of you to keep the stress at bay.