Suspecting that your child is struggling with anxiety can be a worrying prospect for any parent. Most of us aim to be involved and present, guiding our child to be the best that they can be. And some of us are extremely proactive about parenting well, stocking up on books and articles to refine our skills and be the best parents we can be. However, despite our best intentions, there are some ways that parents actually contribute to their child’s anxiety. Explore six common ways anxiety is caused by parents, parental behaviors to avoid, and a few tips on how to promote calmness and security at home.
How to Tell If Your Child Is Experiencing Anxiety
Many children deal with fears and worries from time to time, but when these feelings occur frequently and interfere with daily life, it’s likely that your child is struggling with anxiety. According to the CDC, 7.1 percent of children aged three to 17 years (approximately 4.4 million) have a diagnosed anxiety disorder.1
Signs and symptoms of anxiety in children include:
- Poor sleep, often accompanied by nightmares
- Changes in eating patterns
- Irritability and frequent outbursts
- Constant worrying
- Frequent fidgeting
- Being overly teary and emotional
- Clinginess and fear of being away from parents/home
- Frequent stomach aches or headaches
There are also specific types of anxiety to look out for, such as social anxiety, in which your child is unreasonably anxious around peers or in social settings, phobias, and separation anxiety, in which your child is afraid of being away from parents.
6 Ways Parents Contribute to Their Child’s Anxiety
It can be upsetting to learn that some parental behaviors may be causing your child added anxiety. However, it’s important to remember that no parent is perfect. Here are six common ways that parents unknowingly contribute to their child’s anxiety:
- Helicopter parenting: When parents are hyper-involved in their child’s lives, from knowing where they are at all times to intervening on their child’s behalf, they are sometimes called helicopter parents. A 2010 study found that children of helicopter parents tended to be less open to new ideas and actions, and were more vulnerable, anxious, dependent, and self-conscious.2 While it’s great to be involved in your child’s life, knowing when to step back will help them grow to be autonomous, confident adults.
- Excessive reassurance: Reassuring your child when they are worried or anxious can seem like a knee-jerk reaction, but it may be doing more harm than good. Excessive reassurance signals to your child that they are incapable of handling their worries on their own and it can lead to a habit of reassurance-seeking. The more they depend on you to tell them everything will be okay, the more anxiety they’ll feel if you’re not around to say the magic words. Offering one positive statement of reassurance should suffice, but be careful not to overdo it.
- Letting your child avoid scary situations: If your child fears parties or public speaking or maybe just math class, your first instinct might be to decline the invitation or let them stay home, but this only reinforces their fear. The best way to reduce anxiety about a situation is to face it. Letting them off the hook will only amplify their worry.
- Hostile fighting in front of the kids: According to a review in the Journal of Affective Disorders, parents who were less warm and fought more, had kids who more often experienced both depression and anxiety.3 Although marital quarreling is inevitable, practicing constructive conflict that doesn’t result in name-calling or withdrawal, and modeling conflict resolution can actually teach children how to be more effective communicators.4
- Having high expectations: Believing your kid will be a NASA scientist or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company is one thing, but expecting them to accomplish your idea of greatness is another. When you’re constantly trying to build your child up or telling others about their picture-perfect future, you run the risk of putting enormous pressure on them, which in turn exacerbates their anxiety.
- Hiding the truth: From family illnesses to financial troubles, there are many adult issues that you might want to hide from your child to prevent anxiety. However, children are incredibly perceptive and might pick up on your worry anyway. Instead of shielding them from your troubles, talk to them about what’s going on and what you’re doing to solve the issues at hand.
irritability and impulsivity.
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How to Not Pass On Your Own Anxiety
Studies show that over 80 percent of parents of children with anxiety problems exhibit significant levels of anxiety themselves, indicating there is a link between parental anxiety and children’s anxiety.5 A crucial first step in stopping the cycle is learning how to deal with your own anxiety. Modeling healthy habits like practicing mindfulness, prioritizing self-care, setting boundaries, and maybe even seeking the guidance of a trained therapist are all helpful ways to start dealing with your own anxiety so you don’t pass it on to your child.
How to Help Your Child Deal With Anxiety
Beyond dealing with your own anxiety, there are several ways you can help your child deal with anxiety without adding to it or attempting to avoid the anxiety altogether. Here are some ways you can start:
- Ensure your child is getting enough sleep: Lack of sleep is known to affect mood and emotional health. Ensure your child is getting enough sleep so they can feel more balanced throughout the day.
- Follow a nutritious diet: Like sleep, food also plays a role in mood regulation. Some foods, like sugar, are notorious for making anxiety worse, especially if your child also deals with attention issues. Aim to model healthy eating and make sure your child is getting enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to support a stable mood.
- Limit screen time: Excessive screen time can exacerbate anxiety and wreak havoc on sleep. Limit your child’s screen time and make sure they don’t sleep with devices in their room.
- Teach mindfulness to your child: If deep breathing, yoga, or other mindfulness techniques keep you calm and centered, why shouldn’t it work for your child? Use this guide to teach mindfulness to your child.
- Encourage extracurricular activities: Help your child build confidence by exploring activities that interest them, such as sports teams, drama classes, art, or music.
- See a therapist: If you think your child would benefit from speaking to a trained therapist, talk to your child about what therapy entails so they can feel prepared.
If you or your child continue to struggle with anxiety, a non-prescription medication like Brillia can help, which is formulated for children as well as adults. There are family discounts available with 20 percent off two or more three-month bundles. Brillia is a gentle and impactful medication that consists of antibodies to the brain-specific S100B protein. Studies show that anxiety and depression stem from an imbalance of this protein and Brillia works to reinstate this balance.6
When we become anxious, the S100B protein binds to a specific target in the brain to cause undesirable symptoms like irritability, restlessness, and excitability. Brillia’s active ingredient reduces these symptoms by targeting and attaching to the S100B protein and changing its shape so it cannot bind to its target. This process effectively stops anxiety at the source without any harsh chemicals or harmful side effects associated with prescription anxiety medication. Brillia is also safe to take with any other medications or supplements so you can add the medication to your child’s regimen without worry of dangerous interactions.
Uniquely, Brillia is most effective when combined with healthy lifestyle changes highlighted in our 5-Pillar methodology, which consists of healthy nutrition, adequate sleep, reduced screen time, and mindfulness. This holistic approach has proven to have the most success in reducing anxiety and improving focus. Best of all, Brillia can be safely taken by children as old as five as well as adults if you also struggle with anxiety.
References: 1https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/features/anxiety-depression-children.html, 2https://www.livescience.com/10663-helicopter-parents-neurotic-kids-study-suggests.html, 3https://www.reuters.com/article/us-parent-kids-anxiety-depression/parent-behaviors-linked-to-kids-anxiety-depression-idUSBRE9BC0VR20131213, 4https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_happens_to_kids_when_parents_fight, 5https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/why-we-worry/201705/helicopter-snowplow-and-bubble-wrap-parenting, 6https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23972702/
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